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Modern computational methods provide powerful new tools for conducting research and assisting with important decisions, but they must be applied judiciously so that we do not draw the wrong conclusions. For example, classifiers may be inadvertently trained on biased data, and the use of difficult-to-interpret machine learning methods may make it hard to determine if and when we should be confident in the results.

Such issues are becoming increasingly relevant to research in the humanities and social sciences, as well as to society more generally. In the humanities, the relationship between nontechnical expertise, technical expertise, and “machine expertise” is particularly contentious.

Under what conditions should we trust an algorithm’s results in a decision-making context, and when should we be more sceptical? What roles do (or should) nontechnical, technical, and machine expertise play in the decision-making processes of researchers in the social sciences and humanities, and how can they be applied so as not to lead toward unsupportable conclusions? More broadly, what are the opportunities and challenges posed by machine-assisted and machine-influenced decision making today, and what further opportunities and challenges may lie in store in the future?

Attendees should expect to come away with the workshop with a stronger understanding of different perspectives on the benefits and limitations of applying machine learning techniques to help answer questions of interest to researchers in the social sciences, humanities, and to society more broadly. The workshop will also discuss practical techniques for making the most of the power of computational methods for text analysis (e.g. neural networks, topic models, and vector space models) while limiting the potential downsides.

Booking is essential. Click here to be redirected to our booking pages at Eventbrite.

Tuesday, 15 May, 2018 - 11:30 to 15:30
Event location: 
B4, Institute of Criminology

Future sessions

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Past sessions

Title Start Date location
Digital research project design for beginners Tuesday, 17 October, 2017 - 14:00 S2, Alison Richard Building
Curating your own digital archive Thursday, 16 November, 2017 - 11:00 S3, Alison Richard Building
Webscraping for beginners Tuesday, 21 November, 2017 - 14:00 B4, Criminology
Understanding digital footprints Monday, 27 November, 2017 - 14:00 SG2, Alison Richard Building
Can social media work for me? Tuesday, 5 December, 2017 - 14:00 S1, Alison Richard Building
Beyond words (1): mapping the conceptual terrain Friday, 15 December, 2017 - 11:30 G06/07, Faculty of English
How to get bulk data from websites Tuesday, 16 January, 2018 - 11:00 S3, Alison Richard Building
Democracy by Design: activism, apps and activist apps Monday, 22 January, 2018 - 14:00
Turn your PDFs into searchable text Tuesday, 23 January, 2018 - 14:00
Protest Event Analysis: a practical introduction Thursday, 25 January, 2018 - 14:00