The School of Data Science’s Reggie Leonard Hosts Tom Tom Festival Panel

April 28, 2023
Reggie x Tom Tom Festival

For more than 10 years, the Tom Tom Festival has invited communities from around Charlottesville and beyond to “imagine and build a brighter tomorrow.” Short for “tomorrow tomorrow,” this year's 11th annual festival invited participants to discover a “FUTURE FORWARD” with guest speakers, artists and collaborators over the five-day experience.

School of Data Science Associate Director for Career Connections and Community Engagement Reggie Leonard moderated a panel on Thursday about “Responsible Data Science & Ethical AI.”

Joining Leonard was the founding engineer of Pinterest and first CTO at Reddit, Marty Weiner, and founder of Coordsic, Noah Healy. Together, the group explored the history of AI and its implications for the future.

Marty Weiner listed some of the harms of AI, naming its American bias, ability to perpetuate injustice and its enabling of spammers and scammers. Weiner said, “AI may make the world better in some ways, it may make it worst, but it will make it different.”

According to attendees, the panel discussion was a great way to combine learning about ethics and how it can work for you or against you.

Maureen O’Shea (M.S. in Data Science '22) attended the panel and remarked afterwards, “It’s kind of like what they taught us in our ethics class, that biases are always present in a model. But, if you understand those biases you can work with the model to understand the limitations that it has and then you can actually use those biases to change the model or adapt it to how it can work for you."

The panel discussion ended with questions from the audience ranging from in-depth analysis to “Will ChatGPT make us cook salmon the same?” a response to an earlier conversation about artificial intelligence’s ability to develop recipes.

For more information on the 2023 artists, speakers, and collaborators, visit the Tom Tom Foundation.