Sorelle Friedler Joins White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
The associate professor of computer science will take a leave of absence from the College to become the assistant director for data and democracy.
When the new semester begins in a few weeks it will be without one member of the computer science faculty—but for a very good reason. Associate Professor Sorelle Friedler is taking a leave to become assistant director for data and democracy at the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Friedler studies the fairness of machine learning algorithms. She has received four National Science Foundation grants, including two for her research on preventing discrimination in machine learning with focuses on criminal justice and social networks. In the past year alone, she has been part of a team that developed CodeCarbon, an open-source software package that can help organizations track the carbon footprint of their AI projects, and one of the collaborators on a new playbook that aims to help higher education institutions incorporate ethics and responsibility into computer science curricula.
“I’m excited and honored to be joining the OSTP team led by Deputy Director for Science and Society Alondra Nelson,” said Friedler. “I’ve been working on issues at the intersection of technology and society for many years now, trying to understand potential harms when algorithms are embedded in society and what mechanisms can be used to audit for and prevent these harms. I’m eager to have this opportunity to inform policy on these topics, and looking forward to finding ways to bring this perspective back to Haverford.”
Nelson, a sociologist of science and technology, is the first person to hold a post specifically created to bring social science expertise into the work of federal science strategy and policy. She created this new team focused on science and society, and Friedler will likewise be the first person with her job title. The OSTP, first created in 1976, advises the president on the scientific, engineering, and technological aspects of the economy, national security, homeland security, health, foreign relations, and the environment, and leads efforts across the federal government to develop and implement sound science and technology policies and budgets.