Data Science newsletter – March 2, 2020

Newsletter features journalism, research papers, events, tools/software, and jobs for March 2, 2020


Data Science News

How data determine who are the people of Europe

Statistics Netherlands


How do European statistical offices conduct their national census? Who should be included, which method should be applied, and what does this mean for policies and public opinion? These are the key questions in the European ARITHMUS research project. Over the past five years, researcher Francisca Grommé and her colleagues have observed everyday statistical practices at the national statistical offices of Finland, Estonia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in order to find answers to these questions.

Network report: How the science cloud can go global

Science|Business, David Pringle


Flying in the face of deglobalisation, Europe’s new science cloud will be open to the world. Recognising the value of harnessing global resources to combat climate change and other global challenges, the architects of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) are seeking to ensure it will dovetail with similar initiatives elsewhere.

If it is to become part of a vibrant global research ecosystem, the EOSC will need to allay concerns related to national security, privacy and confidentiality, commercial sensitivity and intellectual property rights, as well as worries about other countries freeriding on national research infrastructures. In some parts of the world, national pride may also be a barrier, as both the political and scientific establishments resist the notion that they depend on support from foreign scientists and research infrastructure.

A new report published by Science|Business makes a series of recommendations as to how the international scientific community can counter the zeitgeist of protectionism and technological competition between regions.

Hopkins wins University of Virginia school of data science job

Architects Journal (UK), Merlin Fulcher


Hopkins Architects has won a contest for a new School of Data Science building for the University of Virginia (UVA)

The London practice defeated an undisclosed shortlist of rival teams to win the prestigious commission on the edge of the university’s Unesco World Heritage-protected historic campus.

The new building will provide an ‘innovative new pedagogic environment’ for the school and act as a gateway to the university’s emerging Emmet-Ivy Corridor campus expansion.

College of Natural Resources receives $50 million naming gift

University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley News


The College of Natural Resources at the University of California, Berkeley, has been renamed the Rausser College of Natural Resources in honor of a landmark $50 million gift by Gordon Rausser, former dean of the college and the Robert Gordon Sproul Distinguished Professor Emeritus of agricultural and resource economics at UC Berkeley.

UC Berkeley launches landmark $6 billion fundraising campaign

University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley News


The University of California, Berkeley, today (Saturday, Feb. 29) publicly launched the largest fundraising campaign in its history, to raise $6 billion by the end of 2023. The ambitious goal — the highest set by any U.S. public university without a medical school — aims to secure UC Berkeley’s status as the world’s top public research and teaching university at a time when the state funds about 14% of its budget.

How the US census misses people of color – and why it’s so harmful

The Guardian, Mona Chalabi


Imagine you’re trying to count every single person living in the United States. There are two main ways that you can mess up; you can count some people twice and you can miss some people out.

In 2010, the Census Bureau made both mistakes, as it always does, because counting people is hard. It double-counted about 3% of people and omitted another 3% and, because those mistakes work in opposite directions, the overall population count was almost perfectly accurate.

What’s revealing though is who gets counted twice and who gets left out altogether. That’s where race has historically played a big role in government numbers.

On Eve of 2020 Census, Many People in Hard-to-Count Groups Remain Concerned about Participating

Urban Institute; Michael Karpman, Stephen Zuckerman, Dulce Gonzalez


  • Nearly one-third of adults (32.3 percent) are extremely or very concerned about how their answers to the 2020 Census questionnaire will be used and with whom they will be shared. Among nonwhite and Hispanic adults and among adults in immigrant families, 40 percent or more are extremely or very concerned.
  • There is significant confusion about whether the 2020 Census will be used to collect information on citizenship status. Nearly 70 percent of adults think the 2020 Census questionnaire will ask which people in their households are citizens even though the Supreme Court ruled that the citizenship question could not be included.

  • Lecture recordings mean fewer students are turning up – does it matter?

    The Conversation; Natalie Skead, Fiona McGaughey, Kate Offer, Liam Elphick, Murray Wesson


    In 2017, a business lecturer posted a photo on LinkedIn showing a completely empty university classroom, 15 minutes after the class had been scheduled to start.

    This is not an isolated incident. Anecdotally, lecture and tutorial attendance has been declining steadily in Australian universities and faculties for many years.

    Declining attendance may affect students’ academic performance and their sense of connectedness. University doesn’t only teach content but develops attributes such as oral communication and interpersonal skills including teamwork.

    Students are less likely to develop these skills if they don’t physically attend class.

    Why is TikTok creating filter bubbles based on your race?

    Wired UK, Maria Mellor


    Marc Faddoul, an AI researcher at UC Berkeley School of Information, found that TikTok was recommending him accounts with profile pictures that matched the same race, age or facial characteristics as the ones he already followed.

    He created a fresh account to test his theory and followed people he found on his ‘For You’ page. Following the account of a black woman led to recommendations for three more black women. It gets weirdly specific – Faddoul found that hitting follow on an Asian man with dyed hair gave him more Asian men with dyed hair, and the same thing happened for men with visible disabilities.

    Putin’s youngest daughter to run artificial intelligence institute



    Katerina Tikhonova, the youngest daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was appointed head of a new artificial intelligence institute at Moscow State University, her fund said on Friday.

    Tikhonova, 33, has held a senior position at the university for several years and runs publicly-funded projects, Reuters has previously reported.

    The Catholic Church and Pope Francis plan to fight back against AI

    Vox, Recode, Rebecca Heilweil


    On Friday, Pope Francis backed a document that outlines how artificial intelligence, including facial recognition technology, should be regulated. This so-called “Rome Call for AI Ethics” carries the endorsement of the Vatican as well as Microsoft and IBM. Believe it or not, the future of AI is actually one of the pope’s passion projects — and greatest worries.

    The Vatican’s interest in the technology is hardly new, and several of its pontifical academies — essentially research societies under the Pope’s authority — are hard at work studying what AI, robotics, and other emerging technologies will mean for the Catholic faith and humanity at large. Still, the document is a sign that organized religion is increasingly interested in weighing in on the ethics of artificial intelligence and, in the case of the Vatican, working alongside large tech companies in the process.

    Largest gift in Berkeley’s history will create a ‘hub’ for advancing data science

    University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley News


    UC Berkeley’s Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) will soon have a brick-and-mortar home, thanks to an anonymous $252 million gift to seed the construction of a new “Data Hub” on the open space at the intersection of Hearst Avenue, Arch Street and MacFarlane Lane.

    The donation, which represents the single largest gift in Berkeley’s history, will provide core funding for a sustainable, visually striking facility that will serve as a hub for the diverse array of students and faculty engaged in computing and data science research and teaching, and will provide a new anchor for Berkeley’s fastest-growing new areas of study.

    Tech workers lean left, but their companies’ PACs play both sides

    Protocol Newsletter, Joanna Pearlstein


    Aiming to stay neutral, tech companies send their political dollars to Democrats and Republicans equally.

    The World’s Data Plan

    University of California-Santa Barbara, The UCSB Current


    As the world uses ever more data, it seems reasonable that this must require ever more energy. Not so, says a comprehensive new analysis.

    Researchers have developed the most detailed model to date of global data center energy use. With this model, the team found that although demand for data has increased rapidly, massive efficiency gains by data centers have kept energy use roughly flat over the past decade. However, the researchers caution that the industry and government should not be lulled into complacency.

    The research, which appears in the journal Science, was led by Eric Masanet, a faculty member in UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. Masanet, the holder of the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Chair in Sustainability Science for Emerging Technologies, is formerly an associate professor at Northwestern University, where the work was conducted.

    FCC Proposes to Fine Wireless Carriers $200M for Selling Customer Location Data

    Krebs on Security


    The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today proposed fines of more than $200 million against the nation’s four largest wireless carriers for selling access to their customers’ location information without taking adequate precautions to prevent unauthorized access to that data. While the fines would be among the largest the FCC has ever levied, critics say the penalties don’t go far enough to deter wireless carriers from continuing to sell customer location data.


    Join us for Data for Black Lives III

    Data for Black Lives


    Cambridge, MA December 11-13 at MIT Media Lab. “Returning to Cambridge will make it possible for us to accomplish all of our goals: expand our programs, continue to build our network, and host the best conference yet.” [save the date]

    MIT Technology Review Presents EmTech Digital 2020

    MIT Technology Review


    San Francisco, CA March 23-25. “TRUST is the theme for this year’s event. Algorithms we can trust, data we can trust, decisions we can trust.  The most talked about issues in AI today – deepfakes, bias, explainability, privacy – all have TRUST as a common denominator.” [$$$$]

    Tools & Resources

    Insight Machines: The Past, Present, and Future of Visualization Recommendation

    Medium, Multiple Views: Visualization Research Explained, Doris Jung-Lin Lee


    TLDR: Visualization recommendation systems suggest useful insights to help users more effectively explore and understand their data. In this blog post, we examine a brief history of why these systems were developed, and where we are today, and outline open-challenges for future research.

    I am *SO* excited. @Google has released a technical writing course for engineers.

    Twitter, Alexandra White


    This has been in the works for a long time, and I hope it has wide adoption.

    p5.js 1.0 is Here!

    Medium, Processing Foundation, Lauren McCarthy


    “We are excited to announce the 1.0 Release of p5.js! p5.js is a JavaScript library that aims to make creative expression and coding on the web accessible and inclusive for artists, designers, educators, and beginners. While it’s been nearly seven years since p5.js began, we intentionally embarked on the path to reach 1.0 a year ago when Kate Hollenbach worked on a first version of a roadmap for this.”


    Full-time positions outside academia

    Data Science Assistant

    Pew Research Center, Data Labs; Washington, DC

    Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Policy & Future Planning

    New York City, Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer; New York, NY
    Full-time, non-tenured academic positions

    Research Assistant in the Computational Approaches to Modeling Language (CAMeL) Lab – Division of Science

    New York University, NYU Abu Dhabi; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
    Tenured and tenure track faculty positions

    Director of the Ethical Tech Law and Policy Clinic

    Duke University, School of Law; Durham, NC

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