Fil Menczer (left) and Katie Siek
Distinguished Professor Fil Menczer and Professor Katie Siek of the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering are each co-authors of white papers published by the Computing Research Association as part of their 2020 Quadrennial Papers.
The CRA’s Quadrennial Papers are selected to portray a comprehensive picture of the computing research field detailing potential research directions, challenges, and recommendations for policymakers and the computing research community. The 2020 Quadrennial Papers cover five themes, including core computer science, broad computing, socio-technical computing, artificial intelligence, and diversity and education. Menczer and Siek’s papers are part of the socio-technical computing category.
“The Luddy School has long been a leader in identifying where technology is headed and what topics will be critical in the future,” said Dennis Groth, interim dean of the Luddy School. “Professor Fil Menczer and Professor Katie Siek are playing important roles in shaping research in important areas, and their guidance will influence researchers around the world.”
Menczer’s contribution, “An Agenda for Disinformation Research,” was co-authored with researchers from Arizona State, the University of Colorado, the Santa Fe Institute, the University of Washington, and Columbia University. The paper describes a multi-disciplinary research agenda incorporating disinformation detection, education, measurements of impact, and a new common research infrastructure to combat disinformation and its effects upon the United States and the world.
“Systemic disinformation is a growing concern around the world,” Menczer said. “It is an existential threat to the United States since distortion of information erodes trust in the socio-political institutions that are the fundamental fabric of democracy. Our policy paper provides policymakers and federal funding agencies with recommendations to meet the disinformation challenge. We identify six strategic targets of support: detection of disinformation at scale, measurement of impact, data infrastructure, educational interventions, workforce training, and new ethical guidelines.”
Siek’s paper, “Modernizing Data Control: Making Personal Digital Data Mutually Beneficial for Citizens and Industry,” includes co-authors from Harvard, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, and VMware Research. The work explores questions related to the increasing amount of data being collected on individuals each day, including who owns the data, the implications for using, controlling, and quantifying the data, and how to best protect citizens’ privacy.
“The value of our personal data lies in the insights that can be made from our data and the networks of people to whom we belong,” said Siek, who also is a Computing Community Consortium council member. These insights can have unintended consequences as we see every day in the news in terms of loss of privacy, unfairness, information bias, manipulation, and discrimination. In this paper, we outline the implications for using personal data, how valuable this kind of data is, how we can better control and protect it, and call for policymakers and researchers to further investigate mechanisms to protect our personal digital data.”
The papers are selected every four years through the CRA’s subcommittees and explore areas and issues around computing research with the potential to address national priorities.