Social Science Matters

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is home to a broad range of approaches to social science, all of which we celebrate, from purely theoretical and interpretive research to all manner of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. One of our priorities is to ensure that this exciting social science research connects with the public while showing the relevance of the social sciences to everyday lives and policy. 

Social Science Matters: The Future Series

Social media. Big data. Autonomous robots. Deep learning. Virtual agents. The Internet-of-things. Genetic mapping. Artificial intelligence. These are the tools of today whose possibilities both excite and terrify. Discoveries of the past, from the printing press to germ theory, have radically transformed the world we live in. Today’s cutting-edge technologies transform the way we work, communicate, learn, travel, diagnose and cure diseases, and how we use free time. How do these cascading innovations in an ever-globalized world relate to social change?  And what do the tools we invent say about us as a society?

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."
-Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

This thought-provoking series co-sponsored by SBS and CICS will address these questions. While the intent of technological innovation is generally to improve people’s lives, it also has unintended consequences, both positive and negative. We will invite high-profile speakers to address these consequences and explore how a dialogue between technology innovators and social scientists can help anticipate these risks and develop technologies and social policies to respond to them effectively.  

The series started off with Professor Moshe Vardi’s public talk on April 5, 2018. He discussed the growing social inequality related to automationand the use of artificial intelligence. 

This speaker series explores how we can live and thrive in a world where social and technological transformation must be considered simultaneously and inseparably.

Topics and Dates

Artificial Intelligence for Social Good - Our Approach at the Wadhwani Institute of AI
Presenter: P. Anandan, CEO of Wadhwani Institute of Artificial Intelligence
Thursday, September 13, 2018 - 12:00pm, Old Chapel
Event Page

Information and the Global Liberal Order: How the Policy Regime That America Built Was Turned Against It
Presenter: Henry Farrell, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University
Friday, October 5, 2018 - 4:00pm, Thompson 420
Event Page

Interaction Ritual Threads: Conversational Persistence in an Online Discussion at a Large Corporation
Presenter: Paul DiMaggio, Professor of Sociology at NYU
Monday, October 15, 2018 - 3:00pm, Old Chapel
Event Page

AI in the Open World: Discovering Blind Spots of AI 
Presenter: Ece Kamar, Senior Researcher in the Adaptive Systems and Interaction Group at Microsoft Research
Friday, October 26, 2018 - 12:00pm, Computer Science Building, Room 151
Event Page

Automating Austerity - Digital Diversion in Unequal America 
Presenter: Virginia Eubanks, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY
Thursday, November 8, 2018 - 12:00pm, Old Chapel
Event Page

AI for Social Good: Decision Aids for Countering Terrorism, Extinction, Homelessness
Presenter: Milind Tambe, Helen N. and Emmett H. Jones Professor in Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC)
Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 12:00pm, Computer Science Building, Room 151
Event Page

Automation, Jobs, and Shared Prosperity: What Should—and Shouldn't —We Be Worried About?
Presenter: David Autor, American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Economics
Friday, November 30, 2018 - 12:00pm, Old Chapel
Event Page

SBS Calendar


How to Submit a Speaker or Event Suggestion

We welcome suggestions from SBS faculty members for next year’s series. Suggestions are reviewed by the SBS Leadership Council and SBS Chairs. Your nomination can be for a specific speaker or for a panel featuring 2-3 speakers on a particular topic to be debated. Criteria for successful submission are as follows:

  1. The speaker should be a high-profile, scholarly social scientist who is very well known across disciplines.
  2. The proposed event should draw a large multi-disciplinary audience, also attracting students and community members.  
  3. Relevance and importance of speaker/topic
  4. Ability to articulate the contributions of social science in an engaging way
  5. The speaker or event will be co-hosted across at least two SBS departments

Submit A Speaker