Harlan Yu shines a light on the civil-rights dimensions of a wired world

EECS alumnus and civil rights leader Harlan Yu (B.S. '04) is appealing to CS departments to show students how they can “pull on various levers of policy" to keep the public protected.  Yu, who is now the Executive Director of a non-profit tech-policy consulting group called Upturn, is the focus of a Princeton Alumni Weekly article describing how he, and Upturn co-founder David Robinson, are working to shape the future of technology.  They helped draft the influential “Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data,” as well as a set of principles to specifically address the use of body cameras by police.  They also helped curb the proliferation of targeted online ads for payday loans and are involved in the fight for internet freedom abroad.  In the future, they plan to tackle social equity in the development of self-driving cars, like the potential for carmakers’ mapping technology to restrict where autonomous vehicles can and cannot drive.  “We need many more computer scientists and technologists focusing on the core social problems — in housing, in education policy, in health policy, in all sorts of core areas where new technologies are going to shift the landscape,” Yu says. “As technology continues to permeate all aspects of our society, there’s just going to be a greater need for this kind of work.”