Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman
New York University
When Combating Hype, Proceed with Caution

Researchers in NLP increasingly frame and discuss research results in ways that serve to deemphasize the field's successes, at least in part in an effort to combat the field's widespread hype. Though well-meaning, this often yields misleading or even false claims about the limits of our best technology. This is a problem, and it may be more serious than it looks: It harms our credibility in ways that can make it harder to mitigate present-day harms, from NLP deployments, like those involving discriminatory systems for content moderation or resume screening. It also limits our ability to prepare for the potentially enormous impacts of more distant future advances. This talk urges researchers to be careful about these claims and suggests some research directions and communication strategies that will make it easier to avoid or rebut them.


Sam Bowman has been on the faculty at NYU since 2016, when he completed PhD with Chris Manning and Chris Potts at Stanford. At NYU, he is a member of the Center for Data Science, the Department of Linguistics, and Courant Institute's Department of Computer Science. His research focuses on data, evaluation techniques, and modeling techniques for sentence and paragraph understanding in natural language processing, and on applications of machine learning to scientific questions in linguistic syntax and semantics. He is the senior organizer behind the GLUE and SuperGLUE benchmark competitions and he has received a 2015 EMNLP Best Resource Paper Award, a 2019 *SEM Best Paper Award, a 2017 Google Faculty Research Award, and a 2021 NSF CAREER award.

Thursday, December 2, 2021 - 15:00