Ben Shneiderman: Algorithmic Accountability: Designing for Safety


Thursday, April 19, 2018, 4:15pm


Harvard Science Center D, 1 Oxford St., Cambridge

Thursday, April 19, 2018

4:15 PM

Harvard Science Center D, 1 Oxford St., Cambridge

Radcliffe Event Page

Algorithmic Accountability: Designing for Safety

Ben Shneiderman, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Computer Science; Founding Director, Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory; member of the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, University of Maryland, College Park


Vital services, such as communications, financial trading, healthcare, and transportation depend on sophisticated algorithms. Some rely on unpredictable artificial intelligence techniques, such as deep learning, that are increasingly embedded in complex software systems. As high-speed trading, medical devices, and autonomous aircraft become more widely implemented, stronger checks are necessary to prevent failures. Design strategies that promote human-centered systems, which are comprehensible, predictable, and controllable can increase safety and make failure investigations more effective. Social strategies that support human-centered independent oversight during planning, continuous monitoring during operation, and retrospective analyses following failures can play a powerful role in making more reliable and trustworthy systems. Clarifying responsibility for failures stimulates improved design thinking.


Ben Shneiderman is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Founding Director (1983-2000) of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, and a member of the UM Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) at the University of Maryland. He is a Fellow of the AAAS, ACM, IEEE, and NAI, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, in recognition of his pioneering contributions to human-computer interaction and information visualization. His contributions include the direct manipulation concept, clickable highlighted web-links, touchscreen keyboards, dynamic query sliders, development of treemaps, novel network visualizations for NodeXL, and temporal event sequence analysis for electronic health records.

Shneiderman is the lead author of Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction(6th ed., 2016). He co-authored Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think with Stu Card and Jock Mackinlay and Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL with Derek Hansen and Marc Smith. Shneiderman’s book,The New ABCs of Research: Achieving Breakthrough Collaborations (Oxford, April 2016), has an accompanying short book Rock the Research: Your Guidebook to Accelerating Campus Discovery and Innovation (2018).