Stuff I've been reading (July 2024)

By Os Keyes

Putting my head up from dissertating to deliver two miscellaneous pieces of news! The first is a new (small) publication, with Vagrant Gautam and a range of other smart cookies, ``Stop! In the Name of Flaws: Disentangling Personal Names and Sociodemographic Attributes in NLP’’. Per the abstract:

Personal names simultaneously differentiate individuals and categorize them in ways that areimportant in a given society. While the natural language processing community has thus associated personal names with sociodemographic characteristics in a variety of tasks, researchers have engaged to varying degrees with the established methodological problems in doing so. To guide future work, we present an interdisciplinary background on names and naming.We then survey the issues inherent to associating names with sociodemographic attributes, covering problems of validity (e.g., systematic error, construct validity), as well as ethical concerns (e.g., harms, differential impact, culturalinsensitivity). Finally, we provide guiding questions along with normative recommendations to avoid validity and ethical pitfalls when dealing with names and sociodemographic characteristics in natural language processing.

You can get the preprint here. People keep crediting me with coming up with the title (I do, after all, have form for silly titles), but all credit goes to Vagrant; if it’d been me it’d be something much sillier.

Second: I’ll be giving a talk as part of a National Human Genome Research Institute event, ``Exploring the many dimensions of sex and gender in the genomics era’’, which otherwise features a star-studded cast including Paisley Currah, Ann Fausto-Sterling and Julia Serano. Mine is going to be on a thread of my dissertation work - specifically, the way desires for scientific data and the purity thereof shaped the early years of what is now the World Practitioners’ Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). Apparently some 1,000 people have registered to show: even if only one in 10 do, it should be fun!