News

Hany Farid's take on the altered Nancy Pelosi video

CS Prof. Hany Farid was interviewed for an article in the Washington Post titled "Faked Pelosi videos, slowed to make her appear drunk, spread across social media."  A video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was slowed to about 75 percent of its original speed and altered to modify the pitch of her voice in an effort  to convince the public that she was intoxicated.  “It is striking that such a simple manipulation can be so effective and believable to some,” Farid said. “While I think that deepfake technology poses a real threat, this type of low-tech fake shows that there is a larger threat of misinformation campaigns — too many of us are willing to believe the worst in people that we disagree with.”

Moses Surumen plugs Kenya’s skills gap with peer to peer learning

Moses Surumen, who graduated with a degree in EECS this week, has been sharing his knowledge with peers in Kenya for the past two years, helping them develop the skills to solve challenges back home.  Surumen, who has 10 siblings, grew up in Kajiado, a Masai area south of Nairobi.  In 2017, he implemented a program called M-Soma, running a six-week summer course for Kenyan high school graduates in computer science.  “We were building skills the way Berkeley does, providing the best skeletal code for setting up the platform and building onto that several features they wanted to use,” he explains.  Surumen has accepted a position at Qualcomm but plans to continue to explore how to scale his project to work in different African countries.

Hany Farid and Alexei Efros team up with Facebook to improve accountability

EECS Profs. Hany Farid and Alexei Efros will be working with Facebook to help develop new methods to improve detection of fake content, fake news and misinformation campaigns. Facebook has launched $7.5 million partnership with three universities, including UC Berkeley, to create the technology.  Farid is a long-time crusader for holding social media companies accountable for removing and preventing harmful content, and Efros specializes in artificial intelligence, graphics and computer vision.  Some immediate steps that can be taken include having the company hire more people to monitor the site, charging a nominal fee to use the service, redefining Facebook and other tech giants as publishers--rather than as platforms, and creating unambiguous rules.

Jeff Bokor rises to position of EECS Chair

Prof. Jeffrey Bokor, the current Chair of the EE Division, will assume the post of EECS Department Chair on July 1, 2019.  Bokor earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1975, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford in 1976 and 1980, respectively.  His research interests include physical electronics and nanotechnology.  He joined the Berkeley faculty in 1993 and served as Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering from 2012-2017.  He currently holds a joint appointment as a Senior Scientist in the Materials Science Division at LBNL.  He will replace outgoing EECS Chair James Demmel.

Chelsea Finn wins 2018 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

Recent graduate Chelsea Finn (Ph.D. '18, advisors: Pieter Abbeel and Sergey Levine), has won the prestigious ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award. This award is presented annually to "the author(s) of the best doctoral dissertation(s) in computer science and engineering."  In her dissertation, "Learning to Learn with Gradients," Finn introduced algorithms for meta-learning that enable deep networks to solve new tasks from small datasets, and demonstrated how her algorithms can be applied in areas including computer vision, reinforcement learning and robotics.  Finn  is currently a research scientist at Google Brain, a post-doc at the Berkeley AI Research Lab (BAIR), and an acting assistant professor at Stanford.  Last year's recipient, Aviad Rubinstein, was also a Berkeley EECS alum.

John Canny named new CS Division Chair

Prof. John Canny will become the new Chair of the Computer Science Division on July 1, 2019.   Canny joined the Berkeley faculty in 1987.  He received a B.S. in CS and Theoretical Physics (1979) and a B.E. in EE (1980), both from Adelaide University in Australia, and an M.S. (1983) and a Ph.D. (1987) from MIT.   He has made significant contributions to various areas of CS and mathematics including AI, robotics, computer graphics, human-computer interaction, computer security, computational algebra, and computational geometry.   He will replace outgoing Chair James Demmel.

Introducing the New CS Faculty: Alvin Cheung, Hany Farid, Nilah Ioannidis, Jelani Nelson, and Aditya Parameswaran

Five new Computer Science faculty will be joining the EECS department in June:   Assistant Prof. Alvin Cheung, whose research interests include database management and programming systems; Prof. Hany Farid, who will have a joint appointment with the I-School; Assistant Prof. Nila Ioannidis, who will have a joint appointment with the Center for Computational Biology; Prof. Jelani Nelson in computing theory; and Assistant Prof. Aditya Parameswaran, who will also have a joint appointment with the I-School.

Scott Shenker National Academy of Sciences
Professor Scott Shenker

Scott Shenker elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Prof. Scott Shenker has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).  Membership is awarded in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original scientific research. Prof Shenker is a fellow of the ACM and IEEE, as well as a member of the National Academy of Engineering. In 2017, he was named a Berkeley Visionary by the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, and also received the ACM Paris Kanellakis Award “for pioneering contributions to fair queueing in packet-switching networks, which had a major impact on modern practice in computer communication.”

Berkeley CS wins major award to integrate ethics into undergraduate curriculum

The EECS Computer Science program is one of the inaugural recipients of the "Responsible Computer Science Challenge" award, an ambitious $3.5 million initiative designed to help integrate ethics into undergraduate computer science education.  The CS Division, which was the only leading CS program selected, will combine forces with the Division of Data Sciences to continue to develop and scale a curriculum that will "equip students to recognize and grapple with the complex, high-stakes questions" that arise in today's world.  Since technologies like facial recognition can help find missing children or perpetuate bias, and social media platforms can be used to both build human rights movements and hack elections, students need to learn how to reason clearly about what technology should and should not do.  Berkeley students will be active participants in developing and testing the new course material.  "We hope the toolkit we’re developing at Berkeley can help other colleges and universities integrate ethics into their classes at scale," said EECS chair James Demmel.

Andrew Carnegie Fellowship

Stuart Russell wins Andrew Carnegie Fellowship

Prof. Stuart Russell has been elected as an Andrew Carnegie Fellow. Also called the “Brainy Award,” the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship awards recipients with a grant of up to $200,000 in order to “devote significant time to research, writing, and publishing in the humanities and social sciences — work that will benefit all of us.”  The award’s objective “is to offer fresh perspectives on the humanities and solutions to the urgent issues of today.”