The EuADS Summer School Data Science for Social Media is opened by a public lecture by Prof. Mireille Hildebrandt titled The Whisper Challenge - The Rule of Proxies.
To develop a learner algorithm we must tell the algorithm what and/or how to learn, which goes for supervised (labelling), reinforcement (machine-consumable goal) and unsupervised (choice of the training data, objective function). This requires a dedicated effort in translation, transforming relevant natural language concepts that inform the specific data science quest into variables, datasets and/or mathematical functions. The act of translation results in the use of proxies that stand for whatever concept we aim to operationalise. As machine learning and data science cannot work with human concepts one could say the domain is ruled by proxies and the output of an ML system will necessarily depend on the choice of the proxies. Subsequently the output must be rendered, explained and often ‘sold’ in human language, again requiring an act of translation. In this lecture, Prof. Hildebrandt will investigate to what extent the rule of proxies is a game of ‘Chinese whispers’ and how this may affect the reconfiguration of real life challenges.
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