Algorithms, though they may just seem like sequences of data going on behind the scenes of our everyday lives—our digital ones, at least—are ultimately created by people.
So, by that nature, they are biased.
Nima Kordzadeh is focused on this bias—specifically, how it leads to real-life decision-making. Say: In a financial situation when a manager is deciding whether to provide a credit line to a certain person; or in a criminal situation, when a judge is determining whether an offender is likely to reoffend.
“Algorithms are trained based on data from the past, learning from the data they are given,” says Kordzadeh, who instructs on graduate and undergraduate business intelligence and data science at WPI.
In his work, he is trying to determine ways to help prompt managers and inform them about biases, he says—these usually against women, minorities, and the underprivileged. “Many people are already biased,” he says. “If they see a biased result, it may reinforce their biases.”
But the administration technology and analytics expert is turning his research lens elsewhere, as well, including to social media in a healthcare context. This is particularly pertinent now, with information flying wildly when it comes to COVID-19.
“Everyday millions of tweets are posted about vaccinations, possible medications, different factors related to COVID,” Kordzadeh notes.
However, much of this is inaccurate and could mislead people in making decisions. Thus, he is researching the implications of such information, and how people verify information that they consume.
“How can we as policy makers, tech providers, and educators, enable people to verify information more effectively, and to encourage them to do so before sharing this information?” he says.
Ultimately, he strives to bridge the gap between disciplines, taking an interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary research approach. This, he says, is how you can get the most out of each discipline. In his multi-faceted work, he also strives to help students professionally and personally, keeping an open door to active mentorships.
“I care a lot about societal challenges. I try to focus on topics that provide societal values and help us detect and mitigate societal challenges, including discrimination and misinformation,” Kordzadeh says. “These are the two things I always try to think about and consider when I teach and do research.”
Social media, health informatics, information privacy, business intelligence, and analytics.
- Traveling! He and his wife have been to more than 30 U.S. states, as well as to Mexico, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Asia, Malaysia, and countries across the Middle East.
- Reading—particularly about psychology, philosophy and economics.
Learn more about Nima Kordzadeh.
About The Business School at WPI
As the business school of a premier technological university, The Business School at Worcester Polytechnic Institute integrates science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into all of its programs.
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