Hinchliffe and Keralis receive Humanities Research Institute Research Cluster Grants

Two University of Illinois Library colleagues have received separate HRI Research Cluster Grants. Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Professor and Coordinator for Information Literacy Services, was awarded a $2,500 grant for her proposal “AI & Society: Privacy, Ethics and (Dis)Information.” Dr. Spencer Keralis, Assistant Professor and Digital Humanities Librarian, also received $2,500 for their proposal “Critical Practice in Text Data Mining.”

The HRI Research Cluster Initiative is “designed to allow scholars with shared interests to explore complex subjects and grow ideas together which they might lack the resources to do on their own.” Research Clusters are awarded on a competitive basis and HRI awarded funding to six proposals for 2020–21. 

Lisa Hinchliffe, along with co-director and Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, Dr. Yang Wang, will be utilizing their grant to explore “humanistic approaches to artificial intelligence —particularly the insistence that AI developers recognize that their social interventions may reproduce, mechanize, and exacerbate social, and global inequities.”

“AI had traditionally been thought of as a subfield within computer science”, Hinchliffe explains in her proposal. “However, as AI technologies have been applied in various domains, the intentional, and unintended impacts of AI on individuals, groups, organizations, and the society at large have increasingly been recognized and studied.”

Because AI has been a topic of conversation and study among various disciplines, Hinchliffe and project participants will be meeting throughout the academic year to have interdisciplinary conversations that will culminate in collaborative contributions towards a publication. Hinchliffe says, “My co-PI and I are thrilled to be leading this community of practice. Privacy is a topic of increasing interest and concern, and bringing social/humanities perspectives to bear is critical for ensuring that we do not mistake the issues as solely technological.”

Dr. Spencer Keralis will be using their Research Cluster for a project on text data mining (TDM), which is the computational and statistical analysis of large corpora of texts. Dr. Keralis presents that because TDM is a field “allied closely with the computer and information sciences, digital humanities, and text mining, in particular, are implicated if not complicit in the problems of bias; representation in terms of gender, race, and class; labor ethics; and other problems that are endemic in the tech industries.”

Dr. Keralis and project participants will “examine how text data mining, as a disciplinarily diverse field, has manifested these problems, and how the University of Illinois digital scholarship community can work together to address them, moving toward a critical practice of text data mining that is ethical, just, and inclusive.”

There will be open discussions, workshops, and experimenting with common text mining techniques that will culminate in drafting a white paper describing collective practice recommendations for critical text data mining.

Both Dr. Keralis and Professor Hinchliffe’s projects will make a rich and valuable contribution to advancing new knowledge on campus and the scholarly community beyond it. The University Library congratulates Dr. Keralis and Professor Hinchliffe on receiving these Humanities Research Institute Research Cluster Grants and wish them every success in realizing their research goals.

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