Andong Luis Li Zhao

Email: andong[AT]u[DOT]northwestern[DOT]com

I am a Computer Science PhD candidate at Northwestern University, working under Prof. Kris Hammond at the C3 Lab. My main research focus is modernizing our political systems through AI. Government institutions are among the most vital for any modern functional society, yet they lack true transparency and are often the least modernized. This lack of transparency and access to information blocks the ability of policy makers and citizens to make informed decisions. However, access to data is not enough; stakeholders need access to the information derived from that data in a contextualized and meaningful form.

I am focused on developing human-centered AI that provides that access and improves, in that order, the transparency, accountability, and efficiency of government. The technical work involves building systems that can understand vaguely-articulated questions, obtain the correct data analysis, and identify the most appropriate representation of that analysis. Additionally, I am working on the more human-centered issues related to understanding users, their needs, and how they are impacted by these systems. Through this balanced approach, I believe that true accessibility of political information, regardless of users’ technical or political knowledge, can be achieved.through AI/ML.

While my specific focus is currently on providing the public with access to information about our political system, this work is part of a broader goal of improving how society functions through socially-conscious AI grounded in real systems. Too often technologists abdicate their social responsibility by focusing on technical development, and too often conversations about sociotechnical impact, such as those around fairness in AI, focus on their mathematical first principles. Instead, by developing human-centered AI technology that helps inform people and uncover novel insights, I want to focus on the betterment of social, political, and economic systems and their impact.

In addition to my professional interests in AI, I am passionate about a variety of topics. Being born and raised in Mexico by Chinese immigrants, I am interested in learning about different cultures, politics, and economics.

Diversity in Computing

I am also interestsed in increasing participation and visibility of computer scientists from diverse backgrounds. I am an executive board member for the International Meeting on Artificial Intelligence and its Applications (RIIAA from its initials in Spanish), one of the premier venues for fostering the Artificial Intelligence research and applications ecosystem in Latin America.

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