Algorithms for the People (CS 1952V)

Instructors: Kweku Kwegyir-Aggrey, Julia Netter, Lucy Qin


Course Email:

Office hours: by appointment, sign up through course email

Course Description

In this course we will examine how technology affects marginalized communities. In our analysis, we hope to better understand how power and identity affect the creation of technology, and how these dynamics exclude marginalized groups, and the harmful consequences of this exclusion. This is a discussion-based seminar which will focus on the following themes: surveillance, protest movements, the technical needs of specific user groups, content moderation, and machine learning.


Graduate students: none

Undergrad CS concentrators: either 300, 320 or 330

Undergrad non-CS concentrators: email us

Course Schedule (preliminary)

Readings subject to change

Dates Topic Readings Note
Sep 14 Overview
Sep 16 Responsibility P. Rogaway. (pages 1-10) The Moral Character of Cryptographic Work

R. Abebe, S. Barocas, J. Kleinberg, K. Levy, M. Raghavan, D. Robinson. Roles for Computing in Social Change
Sep 21 Surveillance S. Kamara. COINTELPRO primer.

The US Senate Church Committee. (pages 1-20) The Church Report
Sep 23 Surveillance The CLEAR Project. Mapping Muslims
Sep 28 Surveillance The Policing in Chicago Research Group. Accountability After Abolition

M. Stern. Federal judge accused ICE of making up evidence to prove that Dreamer was "gang-affiliated".
Sep 30 Surveillance M. Funk. How ICE Picks Its Targets in the Surveillance Age

J. Ulloa. ICE is tracking immigrants with the help of California sanctuary cities, court records show

C. Edmondson. ICE Used Facial Recognition to Mine State Driver’s License Databases
Project list out
Oct 5 Protest Movements A. Brown, W. Parrish, A. Speri. Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to “Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies”

A. Brown, W. Parrish, A. Speri. Standing Rock Documents Expose Inner Workings of “Surveillance-Industrial Complex”

A. Brown, W. Parrish, A. Speri. Police Used Private Security Aircraft for Surveillance in Standing Rock No-Fly Zone
Oct 7 Protest Movements S. Biddle. Police Surveilled George Floyd Protests With Help From Twitter-Affiliated Startup Dataminr

S. Biddle. LAPD Sought Ring Home Security Video Related to Black Lives Matter Protests
Oct 12 Protest Movements S. Morrison, A. Estes. How protesters are turning the tables on police surveillance

M. Albrecht, J. Blasco, R. Jensen, L. Marekova. Collective Information Security in Large-Scale Urban Protests: the Case of Hong Kong
Projects chosen
Oct 14 Technical needs of user groups T. Jenkins. Talking with Vula
Oct 19 Technical needs of user groups K. Owens, C. Cobb, L. Cranor. “You Gotta Watch What You Say”: Surveillance of Communication with Incarcerated People
Oct 21 Technical needs of user groups M. Whittaker, M. Alper, C. Bennett, S. Hendren, L. Kaziunas, M. Mills, M. Ringel Morris, J. Rankin, E. Rogers, M. Salas, S. Myers West. Disability, Bias, and AI
Oct 26 Technical needs of user groups M. Corcoran. When Alexa Can’t Understand You

A. Koenecke, et. al. Racial disparities in automated speech recognition

(Optional) D. Amodei, et. al. Deep Speech 2 : End-to-End Speech Recognition in English and Mandarin
Oct 28 Content Moderation K. Thomas, et. al. SoK: Hate, Harassment, and the Changing Landscape of Online Abuse

C. Newton. The Terror Queue

E. Dwoskin, N. Tiku, H. Kelly. Facebook to start policing anti-Black hate speech more aggressively than anti-White comments, documents show
Nov 2 US Election No class
Nov 4 Content Moderation T. McLaughlin. How Facebook’s Rise Fueled Chaos and Confusion in Myanmar

Business for Social Responsibility. Human Rights Impact Assessment: Facebook in Myanmar
Nov 9 Content Moderation M. Ribeiro, R. Ottoni, R. West, V. Almeida, W. Meira Jr. Auditing Radicalization Pathways on YouTube

H. Al Khatib, D. Kayyali. YouTube Is Erasing History

(Optional) D. Zulli, D. Zulli. Extending the Internet meme: Conceptualizing technological mimesis and imitation publics on the TikTok platform
Nov 11 Machine Learning A. Selbst, d. boyd, S. Friedler, S. Venkatasubramanian, J. Vertesi. Fairness and Abstraction in Sociotechnical Systems

A. Hoffmann. Where fairness fails: data, algorithms, and the limits of antidiscrimination discourse
Nov 16 Machine Learning P. McGreevy. Prop. 25 rejected in 2020 California election

M. Bao, et. al. It’s COMPASlicated: The Messy Relationship between RAI Datasets and Algorithmic Fairness Benchmarks

W. Heavens Bias isn't the only problem with credit scores
Nov 18 Machine Learning L. Wynants, et. al. Three myths about risk thresholds for prediction models

B. Mittelstadt. Auditing for Transparency in Content Personalization Systems
Nov 23 Project presentations
Nov 25 Thanksgiving No class
Nov 30 Project Presentations
Dec 2 Project Presentations
Dec 7 Reading period