UC Berkeley I School professor joins White House as Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Policy

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Professor Deirdre K. Mulligan has been tapped to join the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer for Policy. Mulligan, who is on leave from UC Berkeley, will help the Office of the U.S. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in its efforts to ensure that U.S. policy is informed by tech and data expertise, and will also act as a principal advisor to the National AI Initiative Office, which coordinates key activities and strategic planning on AI across the U.S. government. “I’m excited to bring the insights I’ve garnered through my interdisciplinary research and my decades of experience working on internet policy issues to assist the Biden Administration in advancing the privacy and equity priorities set out in the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights,” Mulligan stated. 

Google senior vice president to address Data Science commencement in May

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Prabhakar Raghavan, a senior vice president at Google, will be the keynote speaker at the spring 2023 UC Berkeley commencement ceremony for Data Science undergraduate majors, the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) announced today. Raghavan leads Google’s Knowledge & Information products, including Google Search, News, Assistant, Geo, Ads, Commerce and Payments. He is a member of the CDSS advisory board, providing guidance on promising areas of research, the education of data-driven leaders and opportunities for computing and data science in technology and society. He is an expert on search with more than 20 years of research, 100 papers and 20 issued patents on algorithms, web search and databases. Raghavan, who joined Google in 2012, previously served as vice president of Google Apps in Google Cloud. Before Google, he founded and led Yahoo! Labs, served as chief technology officer at Verity, Inc. and worked for 14 years at IBM Research.

What to watch in a U.S. Supreme Court hearing on Section 230

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The U.S. Supreme Court will consider this week whether social media companies are shielded from liability when they use algorithmic systems to recommend relevant content to users. UC Berkeley experts say this case could be a defining moment for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which generally states technology companies like Google aren’t responsible for content others post on their platforms. The oral arguments will preview how large an impact the court’s rulings could have.

Maura McGinnity joins UC Berkeley as Senior Assistant Dean for Development at CDSS

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Maura McGinnity has recently been appointed senior assistant dean for development at UC Berkeley’s Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS). Her first day at Berkeley will be Feb. 21. McGinnity will lead CDSS development and external relations as the senior staff member responsible for engaging donors with outreach and relationship strategies in support of an innovative vision. Launched in 2018, CDSS at Berkeley provides accessible and equitable educational opportunities in computing and data science and catalyzes groundbreaking research to meet society’s greatest challenges in health and biomedicine, climate and sustainability, and human welfare and social justice. The division is on a pathway to become the first new college at Berkeley in more than 50 years, with a decision from the UC Board of Regents expected this year.

No ‘shortcuts to inclusion’: Building a pipeline to diversify STEM faculty

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Academia has a diversity problem, especially in STEM. There is a dearth of scientists who identify as Black, Hispanic or who are members of marginalized communities in STEM-related faculty roles at colleges and universities, studies show. These inequities can hurt students and result in harmful biases in tools and teachings of fields that affect the public. We spoke with Aaron Streets, associate professor of bioengineering, computational biology and biophysics, Berkeley BioEngineering Scholars Program (BioESP) director, Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) faculty advisor for graduate diversity and co-founder of the Stanford.Berkeley.UCSF Next Generation Faculty Symposium, about his journey. Streets discussed why he started the symposium, which aims to increase the diversity and quality of applicant pools for quantitative biological and biomedical sciences faculty roles, and its impact in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

ChatGPT raised awareness of AI’s abilities. Experts see an opportunity.

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ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence-fueled chatbot released in November, is changing the ways teachers educate students, scientists trust research and journalists report the news. It passed the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam and an exam to receive a business master’s degree. UC Berkeley researchers say this isn’t a major turning point for AI technologically. Rather, they say, the release is a milestone for public awareness of current AI capabilities. It also presents an opportunity to engage the public in considering AI’s potential role in society moving forward. “We have to look ahead to better prepare for what are likely to be increasingly powerful, yet flawed, systems in the near future with even more profound implications for society,” said Jessica Newman, director of Berkeley’s Artificial Intelligence Security Initiative and a research fellow for the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity (CLTC).

Groundbreaking computational precision health program appoints 13 new faculty

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The UCSF-UC Berkeley Joint Program in Computational Precision Health (CPH) has appointed 13 new faculty to its augmented graduate group, which functions as a novel, bi-campus initiative and PhD program. These UC community members bring expertise in machine learning for biomedical applications, human-computer interaction, and technology-based interventions to address health disparities to this groundbreaking program. Dr. Ida Sim, CPH co-director and professor of medicine at UCSF, called the group “the heart of the CPH intellectual community.” CPH aims to transform personal and public health through computation by developing and deploying adaptive precision interventions for real-world impact. 

New ‘chain mail’ material of interlocking molecules is tough, flexible and easy to make

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University of California, Berkeley, chemists have created a new type of material from millions of identical, interlocking molecules that for the first time allows the synthesis of extensive 2D or 3D structures that are flexible, strong and resilient, like the chain mail that protected medieval knights. The material, called an infinite catenane, can be synthesized in a single chemical step. “We think that this has really important implications, not just in terms of making tough materials that don’t fracture, but also materials that would go into robotics and aerospace and armored suits and things like this,” said Yaghi, the James and Neeltje Tretter Chair Professor of Chemistry, co-director of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute and the California Research Alliance by BASF, and chief scientist at UC Berkeley’s Bakar Institute of Digital Materials for the Planet.

Among less-educated young workers, women and Black men are paid far less

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Less-educated U.S. workers often face a lifetime of financial challenges, but some among them are more disadvantaged than others: Young Asian and white men without college education are paid more — sometimes far more — than both Black men and women of all racial groups, according to a new study co-authored at UC Berkeley. The study led by Byeongdon Oh, a postdoctoral researcher in the campus’ Social Sciences D-Lab, found that young Black men with no college education earn barely half of what their Asian American and white counterparts make. Latinx, Asian and Black women lag even further.

Philip Stark on communicating statistics, being intellectually shameless

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UC Berkeley statistics professor Philip Stark serves as an expert in response to reporter requests on such wide-ranging subjects as elections, earthquakes, the lottery and gender bias in academia. While working with the media can be time-consuming and challenging, Stark doesn’t hesitate to respond when contacted by the press because he views sharing knowledge in this way as a public service. "We work for a public university," said Stark. "It's part of our mission to do things that are of public value."