As language technologies have become increasingly prevalent, there is a growing awareness that decisions we make about our data, methods, and tools are often tied up with their impact on people and societies. This course introduces students to real-world applications of language technologies and the potential ethical implications associated with them. We discuss philosophical foundations of ethical research along with advanced state-of-the art techniques. Discussion topics include:
Syllabus is subject to change, this will always be the latest version.
|1||1/18||Introduction||Motivation, requirements, and overview||
Barocas & Selbst (2016)
Hovy & Spruit (2016)
Jin et al. (2021)
|1/20||Project Introductions||Project expectations and ideas|
|2||1/25||Foundations||Philosophical foundations & history|
|1/27||Foundations||Philosophical foundations & history||Project pre-proposal due.|
|3||2/1||NLP for Social Good||Invited talk – Alex Hauptmann|
|2/3||Objectivity and Bias||Stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination: background||
Buolamwini & Gebru (2018)
Stanovsky et al. (2019)
Birhane et al. (2021)
|HW 1 released.|
|4||2/8||Objectivity and Bias||Invited talk – Anjalie Field||
Field et al. (2021)
Field et al. (2022)
|2/10||Objectivity and Bias||Bias detection and debiasing of data, algorithms, and models||
Zhao et al. (2017)
Sun et al. (2019)
Ahia et al. (2021)
|5||2/15||Objectivity and Bias||Invited talk – Sara Hooker||Hooker (2021)||HW 1 due.|
|2/17||Civility in communication||Bias detection and debiasing of data, algorithms, and models||
Jurgens et al. (2017)
|6||2/22||Civility in communication||Invited talk – Maarten Sap||
Sap et al. (2019)
Sap et al. (2020)
Ma et al. (2020)
|2/24||Civility in communication||Safe dialogue systems – Prakhar Gupta||HW 2 released. Project proposal due Fri, 2/25.|
|7||3/1||Civility in communication||Identification of trolling, hate speech, abusive language, toxic comments||
Warner & Hirschberg (2012)
Schmidt et al. (2017)
Jurgens et al. (2019)
|3/3||Language of Manipulation||Propaganda|
|9||3/15||Language of Manipulation||Invited talk – Rayid Ghani|
|3/17||Language of Manipulation||Fake news and influencing elections||HW 2 due, HW 3 released.|
|10||3/22||Midterm project presentations|
|3/24||Midterm project presentations|
|11||3/29||Privacy, Profiling, Security||Privacy and anonymity, Cambridge Analytica discussion||Guardian article|
|3/31||NLP for Social Good||Endangered languages||HW 3 due.|
|12||4/5||NLP for Social Good||Invited talk - David Widder||
AI For Good Is Often Bad
The Invention of “Ethical AI”
Predictive policing in Pittsburgh
|HW 4 released.|
|13||4/12||NLP for Social Good||NLP for child welfare – Nupoor Gandhi|
|4/14||AI and Climate Change||AI and the climate, the hardware lottery, efficient NLP|
|14||4/19||Intellectual Property||Plagiarism and plagiarism detection. Patents.||HW 4 due.|
|4/21||Discussion||Code of Ethics|
|15||4/26||Final project presentations|
|4/28||Final project presentations|
|5/6||Final project report due|
Grades are based on a combination of homeworks and participation (individual) and a semester-long class project (group). All assignments are due at 11:59pm on the specified date.
Homework assignments. (4 assignments; 15% each) Each assignment contains a combination of coding, analysis, and discussion. For each assignment, completing the baseline requirements will obtain a passing (B-range) grade. A-range grades can be obtained through completing the open-ended “Advanced Analysis” part of the assignment. Assignments are not necessarily designed to focus on technical solutions, but instead to encourage students to think critically about the course material and understand how to approach ethical problems in NLP, while also allowing for exploration of various methodologies.
Project. (30%) a semester-long 3-person team project (more details below and in class).
Participation. (10%) classes will include discussions of reading assignments. Students will be expected to read relevant papers and participate in class discussions. Participation points can also be earned by posting interesting questions and useful answers on Slack.
A major component of this course is a team project. It will be a substantial research effort carried out by each group of students (expected group size = 3; 2-4 is acceptable). You can find some project ideas and resources here. Please use the #find-project-groups channel on Slack to find classmates with complementary interests and form groups. There will be a number of project milestones throughout the semester:
Late policy. Each student will have 4 total late days that may be used for HW assignments at any point during the semseter. Late days may not be used for project benchmarks. After all late days have been used, no credit will be given for homework submitted late.
Academic honesty. Homework assignments are to be completed individually. Verbal collaboration on homework assignments is acceptable, as well as re-implementation of relevant algorithms from research papers, but everything you turn in must be your own work, and you must note the names of anyone you collaborated with on each problem and cite resources that you used to learn about the problem. The project is to be completed by a team. You are encouraged to use existing NLP components in your project; you must acknowledge these appropriately in the documentation. Suspected violations of academic integrity rules will be handled in accordance with the CMU guidelines on collaboration and cheating.
Accommodations for students with disabilities. If you have a disability and have an accommodations letter from the Disability Resources office, we encourage you to discuss your accommodations and needs with the instructors as early in the semester as possible. We will work with you to ensure that accommodations are provided as appropriate. If you suspect that you may have a disability and would benefit from accommodations but are not yet registered with the Office of Disability Resources, we encourage you to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care of yourself! As a student, you may experience a range of challenges that can interfere with learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, substance use, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. This is normal, and all of us benefit from support during times of struggle. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of a healthy life is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is almost always helpful. CMU services are available free to students, and treatment does work. You can learn more about confidential mental health services available on campus through Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS). Support is always available (24/7) at: 412-268-2922.
Take care of your classmates and instructors! In this class, every individual will and must be treated with respect. The ways we are diverse are many and are fundamental to building and maintaining an equitable and an inclusive campus community. These include but are not limited to: race, color, national origin, caste, sex, disability (visible or invisible), age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, ancestry, belief, veteran status, or genetic information.
Research shows that greater diversity across individuals leads to greater creativity in the group. We at CMU work to promote diversity, equity and inclusion not only because it is necessary for excellence and innovation, but because it is just. Therefore, while we are imperfect, we ask you all to fully commit to work, both inside and outside of our classrooms to increase our commitment to build and sustain a campus community that embraces these core values. It is the responsibility of each of us to create a safer and more inclusive environment. Incidents of bias or discrimination, whether intentional or unintentional in their occurrence, contribute to creating an unwelcoming environment for individuals and groups at the university. If you experience or observe unfair or hostile treatment on the basis of identity, we encourage you to speak out for justice and offer support in the moment and/or share your experience using the following resources: