ACM Symposium 2018: Michael Strube speaks about „the dark side of NLP“

11. September 2018
Prof. Dr. Michael Strube, Scientific Director HITS, 2017-18 (Photo: HITS/Keskin)

The German Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) turns 50 this year and celebrates its anniversary with a Symposium in Heidelberg. The Symposium takes place 20-21 September 2018 under the motto “Being Human with Algorithms”. Experts from all over the world discuss effects of the digital transformation to modern society – including all its side effects. The talks range from topics of digitalization, artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, over big data to blockchain, and more.

One of the speakers is HITS researchers and scientific director Prof. Michael Strube. He is leader of the Natural Language Processing (NLP) group at HITS where he and his group focus on questions related to processing, understanding and generating discourse. Additional to his research, he is also deeply interested in the ethical aspects of research in NLP which made him teach and give lectures on the negative aspects automatic language processing. He will present this topic in his talk with the title “The Dark Side of NLP: Chances and Risks of Natural Language Processing” at the ACM Symposium in Heidelberg.

Abstract of his talk:

Natural Language Processing started out as an exotic, little academic discipline but turned almost unnoticed into a research area with high relevance for the society. Now NLP products are part of our lives. On the one hand NLP enables us to communicate and find information more easily; on the other hand its omnipresence leads to problems. I briefly recap the history of NLP and its origins through military funding in the cold war. Then I discuss the almost limitless possibilities to invade privacy by means of NLP in the age of the internet, mobile communication and social media. Relevant NLP technology is named entity recognition and linking, demographic profiling from social media, geo-localization of private messages, detection of psychological disorders, analysis of power and influence, uncertainty and deception detection, etc. We should be aware that NLP research is instrumental in the emergence of a new military-informational complex which has unforeseen potential to invade our privacy.

More about the Symposium.

About HITS

HITS, the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, was established in 2010 by physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural, mathematical, and computer sciences. Major research directions include complex simulations across scales, making sense of data, and enabling science via computational research. Application areas range from molecular biology to astrophysics. An essential characteristic of the Institute is interdisciplinarity, implemented in numerous cross-group and cross-disciplinary projects. The base funding of HITS is provided by the Klaus Tschira Foundation.

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