Approaching Social Issues with Data and Machine Learning

Monday, August 3, 2020 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm

Event Calendar Category

Other LIDS Events

Speaker Name

Rhema Vaithianathan, Diana Benavides Prado, Ola Zytek, Chris Mills


MIT, Auckland University of Technology, & Princeton University

Join Zoom meeting


How can researchers use data and machine learning to address some of the world’s most pressing social issues, while actively engaging with end-users and impacted communities? MIT’s Data to AI Lab presents a workshop with Professor Rhema Vaithianathan, Director of the Centre for Social Data Analytics (CSDA) at Auckland University of Technology (NZ). 

Professor Vaithianathan will discuss the philosophy and work of the CSDA, where researchers work on a variety of international projects that use ML for social impact.  She will explain why and how the CSDA team has prioritized engagement with end-users and communities, and explain the importance of interdisciplinary collaborations for achieving that engagement.  She will also talk about how CSDA works with multi-disciplinary research teams who want to get involved with some of these real-world implementations.

Recent CSDA projects include the development and implementation of child welfare decision-support tools including the Allegheny Family Screening Tool (which has been featured in a range of media outlets including The New York Times), a project with the Chilean Government to use linked administrative data to protect families, RCTs of decision-support tools in Colorado with social workers, and a homelessness decision support tool for Allegheny County.

In addition to Rhema, Diana Benavides Prado will discuss some of the challenges to the deployment of  ML in real-world, high-stakes settings and Ph.D. students Ola Zytek (MIT) and Chris Mills (Princeton) will present work they are doing with the CSDA and Larimer County, CO on providing an explainable decision support tool to frontline social workers. 


5:00-5:15: Professor Rhema Vaithianathan, AUT CSDA

Philosophy and Work: Collaborative Data Science for Societal Issues

5:15-5:25: Diana Benavides Prado, Senior Research Fellow, AUT

Data Science and Deployment Challenges while Supporting Decision Making in Human Services

5:25-5:50: Discussion

5:50-6:00: Ola Zytek, PhD Student, MIT

Sibyl: Machine Learning Explanation Tool for Better Decision Making

6:00-6:10: Chris Mills, PhD Student, Princeton

More than a Score? The Effect of Algorithmic Tools on Child Welfare Decisions and Outcomes

6:10-6:30: Discussion