The idea of having student teams address issues of discrimination and racism started with MIT Black alumni in Washington, DC – frustrated by violence in the news, continued social and economic roadblocks to progress for minorities, and challenged by President Reif’s call to action: What Are We To Do? A brainstorming session resulted in the development of several concepts, two of which will be included in this hackathon. MIT senior leadership has enthusiastically supported this work. A Hacking Discrimination Fund has been set up at MIT to further this work annually.

A successful ideathon was held on February 2nd at Microsoft’s New England Research & Development center. Microsoft has an intersecting mission to address algorithmic discrimination. Members of BAMIT, the Harvard and MIT data science communities, Women in Machine Learning, and the MIT Alumni Association worked jointly with Microsoft to organize the event. The ideathon was also promoted as an optional pre-event for the Women in Data Science Conference.

We have a unique and timely opportunity to do something truly meaningful! We’ll focus on the intersection of big data, algorithm bias, discrimination and race, and explore innovative ways to address important issues.

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