Innovation and the Value of Privacy

Hosted by The Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.  Center for Leadership and Ethics and the Data Science Institute at Columbia University. 

In 1999, Scott McNealy, then CEO of Sun Microsystems, reportedly said about the new age of internet connectivity: “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”  However many fear that individuals have largely lost the option of anonymity. While customers value their privacy, they give it away or trade it at low value in practice. Companies are able to monetize the value of this private information because they can aggregate, analyze this information for their use and sell and trade it to third parties. Meanwhile, customers routinely fail to understand the confusing privacy clauses in online licenses and have difficulty in knowing if the big data predictions about them are biased, accurate, or fair.

On February 5th, 2016, the Data Science Institute and the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics at Columbia University hosted a research-inspired conference to answer a few fundamental questions about privacy, big data, and predictive modeling to turn this situation around.  Some questions addressed were: How can we use data to improve privacy for individuals? Can we tell how companies are using our data and which ones are offering better protection? Do government agencies, such as the FTC or the Bureau of Financial Protection, have any impact on improving individual privacy?  Have researchers or entrepreneurs proposed solutions to improving data protection for customers?

Conference Agenda

Time Event
8:30 – 8:55 AM

Breakfast and Registration

9:00 – 9:10 AM

Welcome Remarks and Introduction
Kathy McKeown, Director of the Data Science Institute

9:10 – 9:45 AM

Keynote Presentation
Kate Crawford, Principal Researcher at MSR-NYC (Microsoft) and Visiting Professor, MIT Center for Civic Media

9:45—10:35 AM

Research Insights

Roxana Geambasu, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University
Deirdre Mulligan, Professor of Information at UC Berkeley School of Information
Arvind Narayanan, Associate Professor at Princeton University
Geoff Heal,  Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise and Bernstein Faculty Leader at Columbia Business School (moderator)

10:35AM– 10:55 AM

Coffee Break

10:55 – 11:45 AM

Industry Insights

Brenda L Dietrich, IBM Fellow, Vice President, Data Science, IBM
Abhay Edlabadkar '07, Founder of RedMorph
Claudia Perlich, Chief Data Scientist at Dstillery
Bruce Kogut, Director Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics (moderator)

11:45 AM– 12:30 PM

Irfan Saif, US Advisory Leader, Technology at Deloitte
Bruce Kogut, Director Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics (moderator)

Ashkan Soltani, Former Senior Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Independent Researcher
Alondra Nelson, Professor and Dean of Social Science at Columbia University (moderator)

12:30—12:35 PM

Closing Remarks
Bruce Kogut, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics
Kathy McKeown, Director of the Data Science Institute


12:35—1:20 PM




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Related Research

Sunlight: Fine-grained Targeting Detection at Scale with Statistical Confidence, Mathias Lecuyer, Riley Spahn, Yannis Spiliopoulos, Augustin Chaintreau, Roxana Geambasu, and Daniel Hsu

Considering Privacy in Predictive Modeling Applications, KKD, 2014.  Troy Raeder, Brian Dalessandro, Claudia Perlich