William Wang Named to ACM's Future of Computing Academy

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Machine learning, the process by which a computer uses algorithms to analyze past experiences to make predictions or decisions, has advanced everyday life. It is being used to diagnose diseases, recognize speech, recommend viewing suggestions on Netflix, and further the promise of self-driving cars. Development of machine learning techniques has created new opportunities to solve challenging problems and improve the lives of people around the world. 

However, as the axiom states, with great power comes great responsibility, which is why researchers and scientists are making a concerted effort to ensure the development of responsible machine learning systems and technologies. William Wang, a computer science professor in UC Santa Barbara’s College of Engineering, is part of the movement to minimize the risks of machine learning and maximize its potential. Potential risks include introducing bias or generalization into models, relying on a small amount of data, or using fake data.  Wang, the director of UCSB’s Center for Responsible Machine Learning, focuses his research on designing responsible machine learning algorithms that account for important societal factors, such as bias, fairness, underrepresentation, and privacy.

Now, thanks to a unique opportunity, Wang has a larger platform from which to advocate from and shape responsible machine learning techniques and other computing initiatives. He is among 36 researchers selected by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to participate in its Future of Computing Academy (ACM’s FCA). The academy, established in 2017, is intended to engage and empower the next generation of computing professionals.

“I'm extremely honored. The invitation means a lot to me, and I see it as ACM’s acknowledgement of UCSB’s strong computing research,” said Wang, who has received a DARPA Young Faculty Award from the U.S. Department of Defense, three IBM faculty awards, and a total of three research awards from Facebook and Adobe. “ACM is the world’s largest scientific and educational computing society, and it is my honor to be selected to this elite group of young professionals and participate in the discussion to share the future of computing.”

The academy enables young researchers, educators, and entrepreneurs of computing to develop a strong and influential voice and expand their professional networks. As part of the leadership development, the FCA defines and implements pilot projects that address challenging issues facing the organization, the field, and society to carry the world of computing into the future. 

“I believe the goals of the ACM FCA align well with those of the Center for Responsible Machine Learning and the university’s Computer Science Initiative. The academy is a great opportunity to work with ACM to better understand our society and ensure UCSB continues to help shape the future of computing,” said Wang.  

New members will be inducted into the academy during a December ceremony in New York.