I am a first year PhD student in Computer Science at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I research privacy and the online advertising ecosystem in the Crowd Dynamics Lab and Social Spaces Group.
Prior to joining the PhD program, I received a BS from UIUC and an MS from Stanford University, both in Computer Science. I worked in the technology industry as a data scientist and executive before co-founding a seed stage venture capital firm.
[S]cientific discoveries can be used in at least two opposite ways. The first leads to specialization of functions, institutionalization of values and centralization of power and turns people into the accessories of bureaucracies or machines. The second enlarges the range of each person’s competence, control, and initiative, limited only by other individuals’ claims to an equal range of power and freedom.
-Ivan Illich, Tools For Conviviality
An autonomous person is an individual capable of deliberation about personal goals and of acting under the direction of such deliberation. To respect autonomy is to give weight to autonomous persons’ considered opinions and choices while refraining from obstructing their actions unless they are clearly detrimental to others. To show lack of respect for an autonomous agent is to repudiate that person’s considered judgments, to deny an individual the freedom to act on those considered judgments, or to withhold information necessary to make a considered judgment, when there are no compelling reasons to do so.
-The Belmont Report
I am interested in the outcome of online interactions between users and technology companies. While the companies delegate their half of the interaction to a piece of software, purpose-built for achieving carefully considered goals, the user often finds it hard to get an outcome from the interaction that is consistent with their own goals, just as carefully deliberated. Whether it is a desire for more privacy or less addictiveness, software can help preserve user autonomy.
I am studying adversarial user strategies for maintaining privacy online while interacting with the advertising and tracking ecosystem, as well as alternatives to this system based on data marketplaces. The work draws on research in HCI, privacy & security, machine learning, and algorithmic game theory.
In my free time, I like to dine out when I can, go hiking with my spouse, and play guitar. Once a week or so, I test my self-control and tempt fate by playing video games, while trying not to get too addicted. I read a lot, mostly history and sociology recently.