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Fall 2023 AI@AU Forum Presentation this Friday (9/22/2023) at 10:00a.m. CST: Shelby 3129 and on Zoom at This presentation will be recorded and posted at


Title: Natural Language Processing for Privacy, Empowerment, and Social Good

Dr. Shomir Wilson, College of Information Sciences & Technology, Penn State University

Abstract: Internet users care about privacy, but persistent gaps exist in their understanding of how data about them is collected and used. I will describe a trajectory of research to automatically extract information from the text of websites' and apps' posted privacy policies and to present it to consumers, regulators, and privacy researchers in ways that better respond to their needs. A recent effort in this trajectory is PrivaSeer ( a search engine and corpus that together make a collection of over 1M website privacy policies available and explorable for privacy stakeholders. I will also describe my other projects to apply natural language processing (NLP) to problems in privacy and fairness, with a general strategy of using NLP for empowerment and social good.

Bio: Shomir Wilson is an Assistant Professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at the Pennsylvania State University, where he leads the Human Language Technologies Lab. His research interests span natural language processing, privacy, and computational social science. He is particularly interested in breaking down technology's "walls of text", situations where a human reader is expected to consume a large quantity of text to take action while lacking time or expertise to properly understand it. He holds over $2M in active grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, covering research on usable privacy, legal text, and fairness in law enforcement. Prior to becoming faculty he held postdoctoral positions in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science and the University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Maryland in 2011.

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