Topicalizer: Reframing Core Concepts in Machine Learning Visualization by Co-designing for Interpretivist Scholarship

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Eric P. S. Baumer, Drew Siedel, Lena McDonnell, Jiayun Zhong, Patricia Sittikul, and Micki McGee. (2020). Topicalizer: Reframing Core Concepts in Machine Learning Visualization by Co-designing for Interpretivist Scholarship. Human-Computer Interaction, Special Issue on Unifying Human Computer Interaction and Artificial Intelligence 35(5-6): 452-480.

Abstract

Computational algorithms can provide novel, compelling functionality for interactive systems. However, designing such systems for users whose expertise lies outside computer science poses novel and complex challenges. This paper focuses specifically on the domain of designing interactive topic modeling visualizations to support interpretivist scholars. It describes a co-design process that involved working directly with two such scholars across two different corpora. The resultant visualization has both several similarities and key differences with other topic modeling visualizations, illustrated here using both the final design and discarded prototypes. The paper’s core contribution is an attention to how our emphasis on interpretation played out, both in the design process and in the final visualization design. The paper concludes by discussing the kinds of issues and tensions that emerged in the course of this work, as well as the ways that these issues and tensions can apply to much broader contexts of designing interactive algorithmic systems.

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Who is the “Human” in Human-Centered Machine Learning: The Case of Predicting Mental Health from Social Media

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Stevie Chancellor, Eric P. S. Baumer, and Munmun De Choudhury. (2019). Who is the “Human” in Human-Centered Machine Learning: The Case of Predicting Mental Health from Social Media. Proceedings of the ACM Human-Computer Interaction 2, CSCW.

Abstract

“Human-centered machine learning” (HCML) combines human insights and domain expertise with data-driven predictions to answer societal questions. This area’s inherent interdisciplinarity causes tensions in the obligations researchers have to the humans whose data they use. This paper studies how scientific papers represent human research subjects in HCML. Using mental health status prediction on social media as a case study, we conduct thematic discourse analysis on 55 papers to examine these representations. We identify five discourses that weave a complex narrative of who the human subject is in this research: Disorder/Patient, Social Media, Scientific, Data/Machine Learning, and Person. We show how these five discourses create paradoxical subject and object representations of the human, which may inadvertently risk dehumanization. We also discuss the tensions and impacts of interdisciplinary research; the risks of this work to scientific rigor, online communities, and mental health; and guidelines for stronger HCML research in this nascent area.

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Speaking on Behalf of: Representation, Authority, and Delegation in Computational Text Analysis

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Eric P. S. Baumer and Micki McGee. (2019). Speaking on Behalf of: Representation, Authority, and Delegation in Computational Text Analysis. in Proceedings of the AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society (AIES). (Honolulu, HI).

Abstract

Computational tools can often facilitate human work by rapidly summarizing large amounts of data, especially text. Doing so delegates to such models some measure of author- ity to speak on behalf of those people whose data are being analyzed. This paper considers the consequences of such delegation. It draws on sociological accounts of representation and translation to examine one particular case: the application of topic modeling to blogs written by parents of children on the autism spectrum. In doing so, the paper illustrates the kinds of statements that topic models, and other computational techniques, can make on behalf of people. It also articulates some of the potential consequences of such statements. The paper concludes by offering several suggestions about how to address potential harms that can occur when computational models speak on behalf of someone.

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Toward Human-Centered Algorithm Design

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Eric P. S. Baumer. (2017). Toward Human-Centered Algorithm Design. Big Data & Society, 4(2).

Abstract

As algorithms pervade numerous facets of daily life, they are incorporated into systems for increasingly diverse purposes. These systems’ results are often interpreted differently by the designers who created them than by the lay persons who interact with them. This paper offers a proposal for human-centered algorithm design, which incorporates human and social interpretations into the design process for algorithmically based systems. It articulates three specific strategies for doing so: theoretical, participatory, and speculative. Drawing on the author’s work designing and deploying multiple related systems, the paper provides a detailed example of using a theoretical approach. It also discusses findings pertinent to participatory and speculative design approaches. The paper addresses both strengths and challenges for each strategy in helping to center the process of designing algorithmically based systems around humans.

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