Forward Fest public conversation series with faculty experts and alumni continues as part of A Year of Forward Thinking

Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020
by Jamie Saxon, Office of Communications

Forward Fest on Nov. 20 will focus on data science and artificial intelligence.

Princeton’s Forward Fest — a virtual public conversation series and a monthly highlight of the University’s yearlong A Year of Forward Thinking community engagement campaign — continues at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, with a deep-dive into the promise and peril of data science and artificial intelligence. The live event highlights how the University’s “forward thinkers” are using interdisciplinary research, teaching and scholarship for real-world impact.

“Researchers and scholars in nearly every field are able to delve more deeply into a wider set of problems because of today’s enhanced computational methods of converting raw data into meaning,” said Jennifer Rexford, the Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor in Engineering; professor of computer science and a 1991 alumna. “Data scientists at Princeton — from engineering and the physical and life sciences, to humanities and the social sciences — are working together on rigorous interdisciplinary research to improve techniques such as machine learning and deep learning, while simultaneously making discoveries in their own academic disciplines. It’s quite an exciting time to be involved in data science at Princeton.”

Gathering a range of voices, Forward Fest aims to spark dialogue across the global Princeton community — students, faculty, staff, alumni and other interested thinkers — to engage with and explore big ideas and their infinite possibilities for shaping the future.

Forward Fest events are free and open to the public. All programming will be live streamed on the Forward Fest website and on the University's YouTube channel. Registration is not required, but attendees can RSVP to receive a resource guide and event updates. Captioning will be available for all sessions. After the event, all programming will be viewable on the University’s YouTube channel.

The first Forward Fest, Oct. 23-24, focused on public health, justice and the 2020 election. View all the sessions on Princeton’s YouTube channel.

Thinking Forward Data Science and Artificial Intelligence is a 75-minute program at 8 p.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 20, and will feature a discussion with faculty members across a variety of disciplines. The event will conclude with a lively Q&A period. Attendees can engage in Q&A by emailing questions in advance to or in real-time in the chat on YouTube.

Nicholas Johnson, valedictorian of the Class of 2020, will give welcoming remarks. Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft and a 1981 alumnus, will serve as moderator for the live discussion with three faculty panelists:

Matthew Salganik, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton, will speak on the robust applications of data science within the social sciences as well as his recent work on predictive modeling of life outcomes and what it has to say about the benefits and limitations of recent computational developments. Mona Singh, professor of computer science and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, will discuss how interdisciplinary work using advancing computational techniques is unlocking some of the most pressing questions in the biological sciences. Elad Hazan, professor of computer science, co-director of Google AI at Princeton and a 2006 Princeton graduate alumnus, will speak about the potential breakthroughs in a variety of fields made possible through collaboration between higher education and industry.

Additional multimedia programming on Nov. 20 will highlight the research of:

Mala Murthy, professor of neuroscience and Joshua Shaevitz, professor of physics and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. Naveen Verma, professor of electrical engineering, associate director of the Program in Robotics and Intelligent Systems, director of the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, director of the Program in Technology and Society, and director of the Program in Entrepreneurship. Scholars and technologists at Princeton’s Center for Digital Humanities (CDH), led by Meredith Martin, associate professor of English and director of CDH.

Forward Fest will continue monthly throughout A Year of Forward Thinking, Oct. 2020-June 2021.

Learn more about A Year of Forward Thinking and Forward Fest on the website. Watch a video about A Year of Forward Thinking. Engage on social media with the hashtags #PrincetonForward, #ForwardThinkers and #ForwardFest, and follow Princeton University and Princeton Alumni on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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