Towards Equitable Language Technologies by Dr. Su Lin Blodgett


Su Lin Blodgett is a researcher in the Fairness, Accountability, Transparency, and Ethics (FATE) group at Microsoft Research Montréal. Her research focuses on the ethical and social implications of language technologies, focusing on the complexities of language and language technologies in their social contexts, and on supporting NLP practitioners in their ethical work. She completed her Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she was supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.


Language technologies are now ubiquitous. Yet the benefits of these technologies do not accrue evenly to all people, and they can be harmful; they can reproduce stereotypes, prevent speakers of “non-standard” language varieties from participating fully in public discourse, and reinscribe historical patterns of linguistic discrimination. In this talk, I will take a tour through the rapidly emerging body of research examining bias and harm in language technologies and offer some perspective on the many challenges of this work. I will discuss some recent efforts to understand language-related harms in their sociohistorical contexts, and to investigate NLP resources developed for one such harm—stereotyping—touching on the complexities of deciding what these resources ought to measure, and how they ought to measure it.


10 a.m. Friday