Department hosts Visiting Scholar on Gender and AI
Sociologist Jeff Lockhart visited SCU Sociology to present his research on how AI and machine learning interact with gender and sex.
Our department recently hosted Sociologist Jeff Lockhart through our Visiting Scholar program to speak on his research. Jeffrey W. Lockhart is a James S. McDonnell Fellow at the University of Chicago, in the Department of Sociology and the Knowledge Lab. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Michigan as well as masters degrees in both gender studies and computer science. On February 28th, 2023, Jeff Lockhart discussed how AI and machine learning interact with gender and sex, bringing new paradigms which hold the potential to either reinscribe or revolutionize gender in not only technical systems, but scientific knowledge as well. Audience members learned about how AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning interact with gender and sex in myriad ways – intentionally, unintentionally, and sometimes even against practitioners’ concerted efforts. Some of these interactions are born out of the allure of a seemingly simple, unambiguous binary variable, ideally aligned with the technical needs and sensibilities of AI. Most of the time, gender lurks in AI systems without any explicit invitation – simply because these systems mine data for associations – and gendered associations are ubiquitous. And in a growing body of work, scholars are using AI to actively interrogate gender and sexuality, in turn shaping what they mean and how we think about them. Machine learning brings with it new paradigms of quantitative reasoning, which hold the potential to either reinscribe or revolutionize gender in not only technical systems, but scientific knowledge as well.