The hierarchy of knowledge in machine learning and related fields and its consequences

Friday, April 9, 2021, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm PDTiCal
Where: event is open to the public.
AI Seminar
Timnit Gebru
Video Recording:


Feminist and race and gender scholars have long critiqued "the view from nowhere" that assumes science is "objective" and studied from no particular standpoint. In this talk, I discuss how this view has resulted in a hierarchy of knowledge in machine learning and related fields, devaluing some types of work and knowledge (e.g. those related to data production, annotation and collection practices) and mostly amplifying specific types of contributions. This hierarchy also results in valuing contributions from some disciplines (e.g. Physics) more than others (e.g. race and gender studies).With examples from my own life, education and current work, I discuss how this knowledge hierarchy limits the field and potential ways forward.


Until she recently got fired, Timnit Gebru co-lead the Ethical Artificial Intelligence research team at Google, working to reduce the potential negative impacts of  AI. Timnit earned her doctorate under the supervision of Fei-Fei Li at Stanford University in 2017 and did a postdoc at Microsoft Research NYC in the FATE team. She is also the cofounder of Black in AI, a place for sharing ideas, fostering collaborations and discussing initiatives to increase the presence of Black people in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

Please note: If you have zoom account the seminar link will be posted in slack the day before. If you do not have a USC affiliation and would like to attend the talk please sign up with the following link: After signing up you will be sent a zoom link the day before the talk.


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