Social Impact

(Introduction from 2015) I've been thinking quite a bit recently about the question of impact. Like all academics, I hope to have some kind of lasting intellectual impact, but for me a key goal is to find ways that the things I can do might have a more immediate social impact, as well. I had a conversation about this recently that resulted in the précis below, and I thought I'd add it to my Web page.

(Update, September 2017) Two things I'm really thrilled about. One is the response I've been getting personally in response to this page, especially from prospective students, who have been letting me know they care about impact, too. Yes, for many people on the "methods" side of computational linguistics, the interest is in improving the technical state of the art and the specific application is secondary as long as it's interesting and produces publishable results. But more and more I've been hearing from people who would love to connect their technical prowess to work that can affect the world in a positive way. The second thing I'm really happy about is the way the broader community has been thinking more and more about research impact, something which existed before but feels like it has picked up over the past several years. I'm seeing more critical mass as people look at applications of data science for social good, and I'm also seeing increased attention to the complex ethical questions that our work can give rise to.

Here are some updated thoughts on particular areas where impact is something I care about a lot.


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