UC Berkeley announces official title of data science division

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UC Berkeley’s data science division received its official title, the Division of Computing, Data Science and Society, or CDSS, on Feb. 5. 

The division’s new name replaced the provisional one chosen when the division was first created, the Division of Data Science and Information. Jennifer Chayes, who was hired in January as the associate provost for the division and dean of the School of Information, said she recommended the name to reflect the broad range and aspirations of CDSS.

The division involves the Data Science Education Program, the School of Information, the Berkeley Institute for Data Science and the departments of statistics, electrical engineering and computer science, according to a UC Berkeley press release.

“Computing is at the foundation of today’s revolutionary transformation of how we view, understand, and interact with the world,” Chayes said in an email. “Data science is the nexus that links these interactions to data-driven discovery in other disciplines from all over campus … Society represents our shared aspirations to make real progress in addressing our most pressing societal issues.” 

Chayes added that the goal of CDSS is to mitigate the possible negative and enhance the possible positive effects that new developments in artificial intelligence and computing could have on society.

Ollie Downs, a campus masters student in data science, said the new name represents an institutional commitment to consider the “human side of technology.”

“The coproduction of society with technology is impossible to ignore, and something that’s essential to understand, especially for the people who are creating the future of both,” Downs said in an email. 

The updated title is part of a series of new developments for CDSS. 

CDSS is also working to develop the Data Science Commons, which will bring together faculty from different departments to conduct interdisciplinary research using data science and computing, according to Chayes. She added that CDSS is developing plans for a new building, which will house the division as well as the Data Science Commons.

CDSS has also outlined research goals for the division, which emphasize building trustworthy artificial intelligence and combining data science techniques with public health, human welfare, physical sciences, the humanities and economics, according to Chayes.

Chayes added that she hopes these themes inspire broad, interdisciplinary projects that use data science to enrich research in many fields. 

“The Data Science Education Program has made it feel much more accessible by demonstrating how data science is pertinent in every discipline and offering opportunities to students from a variety of backgrounds,” said campus junior Ian Castro, who works at the division, in an email. “The new name– the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society– supports that goal of access, interdisciplinary opportunity, and responsible data science.”

Alexandra Feldman is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @a_p_feldman.