U.S. Senate Hearing: Stuart Russell testifies on AI regulation

CS Professor Stuart Russell testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation about the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI). In the July 25 hearing, Russell argued that AI is a powerful technology that has the potential to do great good or great harm, and he urged the Senate to take a proactive approach to regulating AI. Russell's testimony focused on three key areas of AI regulation: transparency, accountability, and safety. “My research over the last decade has focused on the problem of control: how do we maintain power, forever, over entities that will eventually become more powerful than us? How do we ensure that AI systems are safe and beneficial for humans? These are not purely technological questions. In both the short term and the long term, regulation has a huge role to play in answering them,” said Russell.


NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg interviewed on The Robot Brains Podcast

NASA astronaut and EECS alumnus Warren “Woody” Hoburg (M.S.’11, Ph.D.’13 EECS) was interviewed by The Robot Brains Podcast while aboard the International Space Station (ISS). CS Professor Pieter Abbeel, who is the brains behind the podcast as well as Woody’s Ph.D. advisor, interviewed Woody about life on the ISS, the scientific experiments being conducted in the low-orbit space station, living in a weightless environment, and the promising impact ISS research could have on humanity. “As a young kid, I thought being an astronaut would be the coolest job. I had no idea how to achieve that goal. It seemed far too improbable of a goal to set my heart on. But I could pursue things I found interesting and challenging and pursue passions. You enabled one of those… I can’t thank you enough for your open-mindedness. I’m so lucky and blessed to have this opportunity.”


Venkat Anantharam and Cheuk-Ting Li win 2023 IEEE Information Theory Society Paper Award

EE Professor Venkat Anantharam and Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Professor Cheuk-Ting Li have won the 2023 IEEE Information Theory Society Paper Award. The award is given annually “for an outstanding publication in the fields of interest to the Society appearing anywhere during the preceding four calendar years.” The paper “A unified framework for one-shot achievability via the Poisson matching lemma,” by Li and Anantharam, appeared in the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory in February 2021, when Li was a postdoctoral fellow at Berkeley EECS. Li is now an assistant professor at the CUHK. Anantharam, who is an IEEE Fellow, received this award once before in 2008 for the paper “Bits Through Queues.”

Alyosha Efros wins the Thomas S. Huang Memorial Prize

CS Professor Alyosha Efros has won the Thomas S. Huang Memorial Prize. The Huang Memorial Prize was established in 2020 by IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (PAMI). The prize, which is awarded annually at the IEEE / CVF Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Conference (CVPR), recognizes exemplary research, teaching, mentoring, and service to the computer vision community. Thomas S. Huang was a pioneering scholar “who left deep impressions in multiple fields including computer vision and image processing, and a role model who contributed to the growth and well-being of several generations of researchers in the community.” The award includes a cash prize of $3,000 and a commemorative plaque.


Shafi Goldwasser wins Dijkstra Prize in Distributed Computing

A team led by CS Professor Shafi Goldwasser has won the 2023 Edsger W. Dijkstra Prize in Distributed Computing. The 1988 paper, "Completeness Theorems for Non-Cryptographic Fault-Tolerant Distributed Computation," by Michael Ben-Or, Shafi Goldwasser, and Avi Wigderson was among the three papers to receive the award. Awarded annually, the Dijkstra Prize, which is jointly sponsored by the ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing (PODC) and the EATCS Symposium on Distributed Computing (DISC), recognizes papers whose significance and impact on the theory and practice of distributed computing has been evident for at least 10 years. The prize includes an award of $2,000. Shafi Goldwasser is the director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She received the Turing Award in 2012.

Dan Garcia joins CRA-WP board

CS Teaching Professor Dan Garcia has joined the board of directors of The Computing Research Association’s Committee on Widening Participation in Computing Research (CRA-WP). The CRA-WP was established in 1991 with the goal of increasing the participation of women in computing research, though its current mission broadly supports underrepresented populations to improve access, opportunities, and experiences of those in computing research and higher education.


Sophia Shao and Nika Hagthalab win Google Research Scholar Awards

CS Assistant Professors Sophia Shao and Nika Haghtalab have won Google Research Scholar Awards. The Google Research Scholar Program provides financial support for world-class research conducted by professors in the early stage of their academic careers. Shao’s research interests include computer architecture, focusing on specialized accelerators, heterogeneous architecture, and agile VLSI design methodology. Haghtalab’s research interests include machine learning, algorithms, economics, and society, contributing to an emerging mathematical foundation for learning and decision-making systems in the presence of economic and societal forces.

A gavel held by a judge in a courtroom.

UC Berkeley to develop the first statewide database of police misconduct

The California state legislature has allocated $6.87 million in its 2023-24 budget to UC Berkeley to develop a first-of-its-kind, statewide database of police misconduct and use-of-force records. The Police Records Access Project will be led by the Berkeley Institute for Data Science and the Graduate School of Journalism and will partner with other organizations like the EPIC Data Lab, to collect, curate, and make accessible records that were unlocked for the public by a 2019 state law. The project aims to help communities, journalists, public defenders, prosecutors, and police departments develop a deeper understanding of California policing.

Photo of Vivek Nair, left, and photo of Dawn Song, right.

EECS researchers explore unprecedented privacy risks of VR

An article produced by the College of Computing, Data Science, and Society highlighted the increasingly frought landscape of user privacy in the emerging world of Virtual Reality (VR) devices. The article cites two papers published by faculty, students, and visitors affiliated with the Berkeley Center for Responsible, Decentralized Intelligence. Led by CS Ph.D student Vivek Nair and Professor Dawn Song, the research showed that users of such devices can be identified using just minutes of their head and hand movements. Movement data, which is collected and shared with companies and other players to fuel these worlds, can be used to infer dozens of details from age to disability status. One paper demonstrates that body movements are as singular and reliable an identifier as fingerprints, which was accepted for publication at the USENIX Security Symposium. Another found that use of headset data could accurately identify or infer more than 25 characteristics, including location, age and height, which will be published for the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium. “We've done an extensive job of proving that there is a privacy risk here and that it is a different kind of privacy risk than what we have seen on the web,” Nair said. “These kinds of approaches for how to either transform the data or control who has access to it, that's going to be our main focus moving forward." Berkeley RDI is a multi-disciplinary initiative aimed at advancing the science, technology and education of decentralization and empowering a responsible digital economy. This work is part of the center’s Metaverse security and privacy research effort.

Photo of Professor Boubacar Kanté

Boubacar Kanté and EECS researchers develop all-silicon quantum light source

A team of researchers led by Professor Boubacar Kanté has demonstrated the first on-demand quantum light source using silicon, an advancement towards creating photons in ways that would reliably feed quantum networks, or a quantum internet. “The possibility to use silicon as a source of quantum light signifies that current large-scale Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) chip manufacturing processes at the core of today’s optoelectronics and artificial intelligence (AI) devices may be directly used for future quantum systems,” Kanté said. He elaborated further: "In this work, we successfully embedded for the first time an atomic defect in silicon the size of atoms (1 angstrom) in a silicon photonic cavity (1 micron) with the size of less than one-tenth of a human hair. The cavity forces the atom to be brighter, and it emits photons at a faster rate. Those are necessary ingredients for scalable quantum light sources for the future [quantum] internet." This research was published in Nature Communications on June 7th, 2023. The study was led by post-doctoral scholars Walid Redjem and Wayesh Qarony, and Yertay Zhiyenbayev, a third-year Ph.D. student in Kanté’s group. Other co-authors include Schenkel, Vsevolod Ivanov, Christos Papapanos, Wei Liu, Kaushalya Jhuria, Zakaria Al Balushi, Scott Dhuey, Adam Schwartzberg and Liang Tan. The National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy provided the primary support for the study. Additional funding came from the Office of Naval Research, the Moore Inventor Fellows program and UC Berkeley’s Bakar Fellowship.