CS Colloquium - Joshua Kroll

Event time: 
Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 4:00pm
AKW 200 See map
51 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

CS Colloquium - Joshua Kroll

Refreshments available at 3:45

Hosts: Joan Feigenbaum and Dragomir Radev

Title: Trust and Accountability in Computer Systems


The increase in both ubiquity and importance of  software systems in modern society causes a commensurate increase in demands that such systems uphold normative requirements, such as privacy, fairness, or accountability. However, while human decision-makers and bureaucracies are subject to time tested recordkeeping, oversight, and control mechanisms, a governance gap often emerges when critical functions are replaced or augmented with software. This talk explores the nature of this gap through the twin lenses of trust and accountability, as conceptualized in computer security and in legal and political philosophy, respectively. This gap can be narrowed through careful system design. As an example, the talk presents a concrete system for building cryptographically auditable logs for automated decision-making systems that support robust analysis of procedural regularity, a foundational requirement of due process. Finally, the talk lays out a research agenda in the governance of software systems, framing research challenges and open questions around relating complex social, political, or legal norms to implementable engineering requirements.


Joshua A. Kroll is a computer scientist studying the relationship between governance, public policy, and computer systems. As a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley, Joshua’s research focuses on how technology fits within a human-driven, normative context. He is most interested in the governance of automated decision-making systems, especially those using machine learning. His paper “Accountable Algorithms” in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review received the Future of Privacy Forum’s Privacy Papers for Policymakers Award in 2017. Joshua’s previous work spans accountable algorithms, cryptography, software security, formal methods, Bitcoin, and the technical aspects of cybersecurity policy. He also spent two years working on cryptography and internet security at the web performance and security company Cloudflare. Joshua holds an MA and a PhD in Computer Science from Princeton University, where he received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2011.