Towards Building Equitable Language Technologies (feat. Su Lin Blodgett)

Language technologies are now ubiquitous. Yet the benefits of these technologies do not accrue evenly to all people, and they can be harmful; language technologies reproduce stereotypes, prevent speakers of “non-standard” language varieties from participating fully in public discourse, and reinscribe historical patterns of linguistic stigmatization and discrimination. In this talk, I will take a tour through the rapidly emerging body of research examining bias and harm in language technologies. I will offer some perspective on the challenges of this work, among them the complex role of language in constructing our social world and the need to study language technologies in their deployed contexts. Along the way, I will highlight how other disciplines, including sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, education, human-computer interaction, and fairness and justice in AI, can provide vital methods and insights towards understanding the social implications of language technologies, and building more equitable ones.

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