Lauren F. Klein, Emory University
Host: Holly Rushmeier
Title: Why LLM Research Needs Feminism
As Large Language Models (LLMs) are increasingly leveraged by corporations and in academic research, the asymmetrical conditions of their production, the expanding possibilities for their application, and their potential for harm—to both people and the planet—are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. How should we think about these possibilities and pitfalls? Who should we be thinking with? And what should we be thinking about? In this talk, Klein will propose that intersectional feminism can help to answer these consequential questions—and potentially point the way to new areas of AI/ML research. Drawing from her recent book, Data Feminism (MIT Press, 2020), co-authored with Catherine D’Ignazio, and her longstanding involvement in work at the intersection of NLP and humanities data, she will demonstrate how the attention to asymmetrical power that constitutes the core of feminist thinking can not only be translated into the LLM research space, but is in fact necessary if these models are to contribute to some of today’s most urgent research questions—those having to do with increasing social and cultural understanding, and limiting the potential for bias and harm.
Lauren Klein is Winship Distinguished Research Professor and Associate Professor in the departments of English and Quantitative Theory & Methods at Emory University, where she also directs the Digital Humanities Lab. Before moving to Emory, she taught in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech. Klein works at the intersection of digital humanities, data science, and American culture, with a research focus on issues of gender and race. She is the author of several books, including the award-winning Data Feminism (MIT Press, 2020), co-authored with Catherine D’Ignazio. With Matthew K. Gold, she edits Debates in the Digital Humanities, a hybrid print-digital publication stream that explores debates in the field as they emerge. Her work has appeared in leading humanities journals including PMLA, American Literature, and American Quarterly; and at technical conferences including NACCL, EMNLP, and IEEE VIS. Her research has been supported by grants from the NEH and the Mellon Foundation.