Applying Data Science for Social Good

Abstract: Getting data and tech solutions to work effectively, represent all voices, and do more good than harm is a human-intensive design process. This workshop will be focused on the best practices DataKind has developed in the past seven years of working on projects using data science in the service of humanity. Attendees will hear stories about a few of our failures, how we course corrected, and how a return to the core of our practice has always ensured we create analyses and algorithms that drive impact. Additionally, participants will be exposed to the ways of doing data science in the social sector that can differ from academia and industry. As conversations about tech and AI begin to focus on their threats to society, we’d also like to host a conversation that gives constructive steps forward, so that folks can balance between the two extremes of unfettered techno-positivism and grim dystopian hand-wringing and instead get to building wonderful new tools that help where it matters most. In this session, Jake Porway, Founder and Executive Director of DataKind, will hew closer to the implementation of human-centered design and the “human” story at the center of project implementation successes and failures.

Bio: A pioneer of the Data for Good movement, Jake Porway is an expert in the field of data and technology. As Founder and Executive Director of DataKind, a global nonprofit dedicated to using data science and AI in the service of humanity, he has worked alongside the nonprofit community to drive social change with the power of data science since 2011. Jake’s career spans more than a decade in the data science sector as a statistician and computer scientist. He has worked as a data scientist for The New York Times R&D Lab and was a research scientist studying machine learning and probabilistic modeling tasks with NASA, the Office of Naval Research, and other government agencies. A PopTech Social Innovation Fellow and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Jake was also noted as one of LinkedIn’s Next Wave Top Professionals 35 & Under in 2017, and his efforts have led to DataKind being named one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Nonprofits for 2017. Jake holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Columbia University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Statistics from UCLA.