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Segal Seminar Series: Professor Scott Klemmer, UC San Diego

October 23, 2018, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center, Ford Design Studio

"Learning through Collective Intelligence"

The ‘collective’ part of collective intelligence can feel simultaneously uplifting (“we all contribute!”) and surprising (“I thought you needed to be an expert?”). People often have this same pair of feelings about human-centered design. A partial resolution I (and many of us) offer to these reactions is, “it depends on what you mean by expert. Each of us is an expert in our own lives, which can offers a unique perspective. Also, it’s handy to anchor insights in a concrete setting.” One belief that animates both fields is that we’re not restricted to choosing between expert innovation and collective innovation as they exist today. Experts can take a cue from anthropology and embed themselves in a domain to get more situated insights. And we can create and share knowledge and tools that help a wider group of people innovate. For the past 6 years, I’ve worked in online education as both a researcher and practitioner, trying to scale the learning that happens in a design studio to the globe. I’ll share insights from my group’s empirical research and software platforms working toward this goal. A traditional design degree (or PhD or MD) provides focused, multi-year training in a discipline. Some of what’s taught is necessarily cumulative, building on what came before. However, online learning materials of many types show that bite-sized learning is often possible and really useful. How might collective intelligence benefit by weaving focused learning modules (both domain knowledge and process strategies) into an innovation architecture? I’ll share insights and challenges that have emerged from my group’s work — including peer review, scientific discovery, and creativity support—that provide careful process guidance and place focused learning experiences at the point where they’re needed (as opposed to, say, in your ninth grade biology class). This helps collective intelligence participants gain "micro-expertise" and make more creative, practical, and innovate contributions. With such complex sociotechnical systems, a lot of the behavior is emergent, scale-dependent, and importantly different around the globe. This makes moving from the lab to the wild especially important. So along the way I’ll reflect on how the web has dramatically improved our ability to do this Design at Large: creating research that is used around the world for people’s own goals, and improving our knowledge through experiments on these platforms that compare alternatives.

Meet Scott

Scott is a Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science & Engineering at UC San Diego, where he co-founded the Design Lab. He previously served as Associate Professor of Computer Science at Stanford, where he co-directed the HCI Group, held the Bredt Faculty Scholar chair, and was a founding participant in the He has a PhD in CS from Berkeley and a dual BA in Art-Semiotics and Computer Science from Brown (with Graphic Design work at RISD).

His former graduate students are leading professors (at Berkeley, CMU, UCSD, & UIUC), researchers (Google & Adobe), founders (including Instagram & Pulse), social entrepreneurs, and engineers.

Scott launched the first MOOC to feature open-ended creative work in spring 2012. The peer-review approaches he helped develop are used by major MOOC platforms, touching thousands of learners every day. His group publishes on these topics, disseminating their advances through widely-used open-source software. His course grew into the Interaction Design specialization, designated as one of the ‘most coveted’ Coursera certificates. All together, around 300,000 learners have signed up for his courses.

He has been awarded the Katayanagi Emerging Leadership Prize, Sloan Fellowship, NSF CAREER award, and Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship. Eleven of his papers were awarded best paper or honorable mention at top HCI venues. He is program co-chair of Learning@Scale '18, and was program co-chair for UIST, the CHI systems area, and HCIC. He advises university design programs globally.


WED@NICO SEMINAR: César Hidalgo, MIT Media Lab "The Principles of Collective Learning"

October 24, 2018, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Chambers Hall, Lower Level


César Hidalgo, Director of the Collective Learning Group, MIT Media Lab


The Principles of Collective Learning


How do teams, cities, and nations learn? In this talk I will discuss research on the principles that govern the creation, diffusion, and valuation of knowledge. These principles govern the accumulation of knowledge from experience, the diffusion of knowledge across social, geographic, and cognitive barriers, and the connection between the geography of knowledge and macroeconomic outcomes, such as income, economic growth, and income inequality. I will then use these principles to discuss optimal industrial diversification strategies, micro-mechanisms governing knowledge diffusion, and the application of these principles to industrial policy. To finalize, I will present applied work on the creation of national data integration, distribution, and visualization systems (e.g., I will show how these technologies are changing the way governments distribute data and paving the way for a world in which government executive action is augmented by artificial intelligence.

Speaker Bio:

César A. Hidalgo leads the Collective Learning group at The MIT Media Lab and is an Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT. Hidalgo's work focuses on understanding how teams, organizations, cities, and nations learn. At the Collective Learning group, Hidalgo studies knowledge flows and also creates software tools to facilitate learning in organizations. Hidalgo's academic publications have been cited more than 12,000 times and his online systems have received more than 100 million pageviews and numerous awards. Hidalgo's latest book, Why Information Grows (Basic Books, 2015), has been translated to over ten languages. Hidalgo is also the co-author of The Atlas of Economic Complexity (MIT Press, 2014), and a co-founder of Datawheel LLC, a company that has professionalized the creation of large data visualization engines. Hidalgo lives in Somerville Massachusetts with his wife Anna and their daughter Iris.

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How Bilingualism Changes Linguistic, Cognitive, and Neural Function

October 26, 2018, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Rebecca Crown Center, Hardin Hall

The majority of the world population is bilingual or multilingual. In this talk, Viorica Marian will review evidence showing that learning another language results in profound changes to the human linguistic, cognitive, and neural architectures. She will show that a bilingual's two languages constantly interact and influence each other. Bilinguals’ experience managing their two languages translates to changes not only in the domain of language (such as advantages in language learning), but also to changes in other domains (such as executive function and visual search), and influences brain activation. Using eye-tracking, mouse-tracking, EEG, and fMRI data, Marian suggests that the highly interactive and dynamic nature of bilingualism changes cognition and the brain.

Prof. Marian is the Sundin Endowed Chair of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University. Since 2000, Prof. Marian directs the Bilingualism and Psycholinguistics Research Group, funded by the National Institutes of Health. Her research on bilingualism and its consequences for cognition, language, and the brain receives extensive press coverage.

The Buffett Institute Faculty & Fellows Colloquium brings together an interdisciplinary audience to build awareness of global research on campus. This series promotes dialogue on scholarship and develops a deeper sense of community among Buffett Institute affiliates. Each meeting lasts one hour; lunch is provided. 


Psychology Colloquium Series: Linguistic origins of uniquely human abstract concepts

October 29, 2018, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Chambers Hall, Ruan Conference Room – Lower Level

Dr. David Barner, of The University of California San Diego, will speak at Northwestern as part of the Department of Psychology’s Colloquium Series.

Linguistic origins of uniquely human abstract concepts

Abstract: Humans have a unique ability to organize experience via formal systems for measuring time, space, and number. Many such concepts - like minute, meter, or liter - rely on arbitrary divisions of phenomena using a system of exact numerical quantification, which first emerges in development in the form of number words (e.g., one, two, three, etc). Critically, large exact numerical representations like "57" are neither universal among humans nor easy to acquire in childhood, raising significant questions as to their cognitive origins, both developmentally and in human cultural history. In this talk, I explore one significant source of such representations: Natural language. In Part 1, I argue that children learn small number words using the same linguistic representations that support learning singular, dual, and plural representations in many of the world's languages. In Part 2, I investigate the idea that the logic of counting - and the intuition that numbers are infinite - also arises from a foundational property of language: Recursion. In particular, I will present a series of new studies from Cantonese, Hindi, Gujarati, English, and Slovenian. Some of these languages - like Cantonese and Slovenian - exhibit relatively transparent morphological rules in their counting systems, which may allow children to readily infer that number words - and therefore numbers - can be freely generated from rules, and therefore are infinite. Other languages, like Hindi and Gujarati, have highly opaque counting systems, and may make it harder for children to infer such rules. I conclude that the fundamental logical properties that support learning mathematics may first arise as part of the human capacity for natural language.


Paul Pietroski

October 30, 2018, 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Swift Hall, 107

Meanings, Most, and Mass

Dr. Pietroski will discuss a series of studies that show how experimental methods can help adjudicate between provably equivalent but procedurally distinct specifications of word meanings, focussing on 'most' and 'more'.

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Weinberg Distinguished Fellow Lecture: Zenzi Griffin

March 12, 2019, 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Presentation by Weinberg Distinguished Fellow Zenzi Griffin. Sponsored by Weinberg College with the Department of Linguistics, Department of Psychology, and the Cognitive Science Program.