NYU Researchers Receive Award from NSF and Amazon

to Assist Public Sector Organizations with Policy Interventions


NYU Marron Director of Civic Analytics and Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning, Constantine Kontokosta, is part of a team of NYU researchers led by Daniel Neill, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Public Service at NYU Courant, and including Ravi Shroff, Assistant Professor of Applied Statistics, Social Science, and Humanities at NYU Steinhardt, and Edward McFowland, Assistant Professor of Information and Decision Sciences at the University of Minnesota, who were awarded funding for their project, “FAI: End-To-End Fairness for Algorithm-in-the-Loop Decision Making in the Public Sector.” The project is funded by the NSF Program on Fairness in Artificial Intelligence in Collaboration with Amazon.

The goal of this project is to develop methods and tools that will assist public-sector organizations, in areas such as housing and criminal justice, to develop fair and equitable policy interventions. In these high-stakes contexts, human decision-makers’ implicit biases can lead to disparities in outcomes across race, gender, and socioeconomic lines. While artificial intelligence (AI) offers great promise for identifying and potentially correcting these sorts of biases, a rapidly growing literature has shown that automated decision tools can also worsen existing disparities or create new biases. To help bridge this gap between the promise and practice of AI, the interdisciplinary team of investigators will develop an integrated framework and new methodological approaches to support fair and equitable decision-making. The innovations coming from this research will be deployed in real-world systems in New York City through a partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, which will focus on reducing incarceration by equitably providing supportive interventions to justice-involved populations. The investigators will also work with other city agencies to prioritize housing inspections and repairs, assess and improve the fairness of civil and criminal court proceedings, and analyze the disparate health impacts of adverse environmental exposures, including poor-quality housing and aggressive, unfair policing practices.

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