Nithya Sambasivan

I am a Staff Researcher at PAIR and lead the HCI-AI group at Google Research India, Bangalore. My current research focuses on using HCI techniques in developing responsible AI in India, with a focus on marginalized communities. Specific sub-areas are data, fairness, privacy and abuse, and consent. I publish in the fields of HCI, ICTD, and Privacy/Security. My long-standing research agenda has been on HCI and under-represented communities in the Global South.

nithyasamba [at] google [dot] com

Some recent projects:


Sambasivan, N., Kapania, S., Highfill, H., Akrong, D., Paritosh, P., Aroyo, L.
“Everyone wants to do the model work, not the data work”: Data Cascades in High-stakes AI
CHI 2021. [PDF] [PAIR talk]

Sambasivan, N., Arnesen, E., Hutchinson, B., Doshi, T., Prabhakaran, V.
Re-imagining Algorithmic Fairness in India and Beyond.
FaccT 2021 (upcoming).

Sambasivan, N., Arnesen, E., Hutchinson, B., Prabhakaran, V.
Non-portability of Algorithmic Fairness in India
Navigating the Broader of Impacts of AI Research, NeurIPS 2020 workshop. [PDF] [Talk]

Thakkar, D., Kumar. N., Sambasivan, N.
Beyond the Portal: Re-imagining the Post-pandemic Future of Work.
ACM interactions 27(6) (November 2020) [HTML].

Thakkar, D., Kumar. N., Sambasivan, N.
Towards an AI-powered Future that Works for Vocational Workers.
CHI 2020 [PDF].

Toward Gender Equity Online.
April 2019. [Google blog post | full report pdf | sample talk]

Sambasivan, N., Batool, A., Ahmed, N., Matthews, T., Thomas, K., Gaytán-Lugo, L., Nemer, D., Bursztein, E., Churchill, E. and Consolvo, S.
Toward Gender-Equitable Privacy and Security in South Asia. [PDF | Elie Bursztein’s helpful blog summary]
IEEE Security & Privacy. 17. (2019). 71-77.

Sambasivan, N.
The Remarkable Illusions of Technology for Social Good
ACM interactions 26(3) (July 2019), 64-67. [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Batool, A., Ahmed, N., Matthews, T., Thomas, K., Gaytán-Lugo, L., Nemer, D., Bursztein, E., Churchill, E. and Consolvo, S.
“They Don’t Leave Us Alone Anywhere We Go”: Gender and Digital Abuse in South Asia
CHI 2019 [PDF]
[Best of CHI]

Sambasivan, N. and Holbrook, J.
Towards Responsible AI for the Next Billion Users. [PDF]
ACM interactions 26(1) (January 2019), 68-71.

Sambasivan, N., Checkley, G., Batool, A., Ahmed, N., Nemer, D., Gaytán-Lugo, L., Matthews, T., Consolvo, S., and Churchill, E.
“Privacy is not for me, it’s for those rich women”: Performative Privacy Practices on Mobile Phones by Women in South Asia
SOUPS 2018 [PDF]
[IAPP Distinguished Privacy Award]

Thakkar, D.*, Sambasivan, N.*, Yardi, P., Sudarshan, P., and Toyama, K.
The Unexpected Entry and Exodus of Indian Women in CS and HCI
CHI 2018. [PDF | Google blog post | Indian scientist role model videos (with Divy Thakkar)]

Sambasivan, N., Checkley, G., Ahmed, N., and Batool, A.
Gender equity in technologies. [PDF]
ACM interactions 25, 1 (December 2017), 58-61.

Sambasivan, N. and Aoki, P.M.
Imagined Connectivities: Synthesized Conceptions of Public Wi-Fi in Urban India.
CHI 2017. [PDF]

Dye, M., Nemer, D., Pina, L., Sambasivan, N., Bruckman, A. and Kumar, N.
Locating the Internet in the Parks of Havana.
CHI 2017 [PDF]
[Best of CHI honourable mention]

Sambasivan, N., Jain, N., Checkley G., Baki, A. and Herr, T.
A framework for technology design in emerging markets. [PDF]
ACM interactions 24, 3 (April 2017), 70-73.

Sambasivan, N., Lee, P., Hecht, G., Aoki, P.M., Carrera, M.-I., Chen, J.,  Youssefmir, M., Cohn, D.P.,  Kruskall, P.,  Wetchler,  E. and Larssen, A.T.
SmartBrowse: Design and Evaluation of a Mobile Data Price Transparency Tool for Mobile Web Use.
ITID 11 (1), Spring 2015, 21-40. [PDF]
[“Best of ICTD” special issue paper]

Sambasivan, N., Azad, G., Aoki, P.M. and Mitra, S.S.
“We call it Hi-Fi”: Exposing Indian Households to High Speed Broadband Wireless Internet.
ICTD 2016. [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Lee, P., Hecht, G., Aoki, P.M., Carrera, M.-I., Chen, J.,  Youssefmir, M., Cohn, D.P.,  Kruskall, P.,  Wetchler,  E. and Larssen, A.T.
Chale, How Much it Cost to Browse? Results from a Mobile Data Price Transparency Trial in Ghana.
ICTD 2013. [PDF]

Sambasivan, N. and Cutrell, E.
Understanding negotiation in airtime sharing in low-income microenterprises.
CHI 2012. [PDF]
[Best of CHI honourable mention]

Dray, S. M., Light, A. E., Evers, V., Dearden, A., Densmore, M., Kam, M., Marsden, G., Ramachandran, D., Sambasivan, N., Smyth, T., Gruenen, D., and Winters, N.
Human Computer Interaction for Development: Changing HCI to Change the World.
Jacko, J. A. (Ed.). Human computer interaction handbook: Fundamentals, evolving technologies, and emerging applications. 2012. CRC press. [preprint PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Cutrell, E., and Weber, J. S.
Designing a Phone Broadcasting System for Urban Sex Workers in India.
CHI 2011. [PDF]
[Best of CHI honourable mention]

Cervantes, R., Warschauer, M., Nardi, B. and Sambasivan, N.
Infrastructures for low-cost laptop use in Mexican schools.
CHI 2011. [PDF]

Sambasivan. N. and Rangaswamy, N.
Cutting Chai, Jugaad, and Here Pheri: towards UbiComp for a global community.
Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. Special issue on the Digital Divide. 15 (6), 2011. pp. 553-564. [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Cutrell, E., Toyama, K. and Nardi, B.
Intermediated Technology Use in Developing Communities.
CHI 2010.[PDF]
[Best of CHI honourable mention]

Sambasivan, N. and Smyth, T.
The Human Infrastructure in ICTD.
ICTD 2010. [PDF]

Light, A., Ladeira, I., Roberson, J., Bidwell, N. J., Rangaswamy, N., Sambasivan, N. and Gitau, S.
Gender Matters: Female Perspectives in ICT4D Research.
ICTD 2010. [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Cutrell, E. and Toyama, K.
ViralVCD: Tracing Information-Diffusion Paths with Low Cost Media in Developing Communities.
CHI 2010. [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Rangaswamy, N., Toyama, K., and Nardi, B.
Encountering Development Ethnographically.
ACM Interactions. XVI.6. 2009, pp. 20-23 [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Rangaswamy, N., Cutrell, E. and Nardi, B.
Ubicomp4D: Interaction and Infrastructure for International Development-The Case of Urban Indian Slums.
UbiComp 2009 [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Ventä, L., Mäntyjärvi, J., Isomursu, M., Häkkilä, J.
Designing for Social Context of Mobility: Mobile Applications for Always-on Users.
OzCHI 2009

Production of Use: Reconceptualizing “the User” in Low-income Communities in Urban India, 2012. [Link]
University of California

Blog and editorial pieces
Sambasivan, N. and Mittal, S.
Towards Gender Equity in STEM through Relatable Role Models [Link]
Google India blog, 2018

Piece by Bill Reeve on, 2018
Working for gender equity online: Meet Googler Nithya Sambasivan [Link]

Sambasivan, N.
Connectivity, Culture and Credit [Link]
Google Design, 2017

Sambasivan, N.
Google Africa, 2014.

Sambasivan, N. and Gitau, S.
ICTD special issue for ACM Crossroads. December 2012. [PDF]

CSCW 2017, 2018, 2020 AC
CHI 2014, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021 AC
DEV 2015, 2016 PC
ICTD steering committee, 2015, 2016, 2017 PC; 2019, 2020 core PC
FAT* 2020 PC
UN working group on women and digital inclusion
Compass 2018 Notes co-chair; 2019, 2020 PC
CHI 2018, Co-chair, Workshops
Reviewer: Anita Borg scholarships
Reviewer: Google research awards (2012 – present)
Reviewer: CHI, CSCW, UbiComp, ITID journal, ICTD, PUC

Selected talks

Design for gender equity in technology
University of Washington, 2019
Northwestern University, 2018
DePaul University, 2018
World Bank, 2018
Google I/O, 2018
IIT Bombay, 2018
ITU Pakistan, 2018
United Nations, 2018
Global UX, 2017

Design for autonomy and fairness of new technology users in the Global South
Cornell University, 2018
University of Colorado, Boulder 2018
University of Michigan, 2018
Carnegie Mellon University, 2018
Georgia Tech, 2018
University of Southern California, 2018

Building for the Next Billion Users: panel
Google I/O, 2018 [Video]

Designing for the Next Billion Users: Accessibility UX Insights from Emerging Markets
Google I/O, 2017

Designing for human systems in resource-constrained areas
UC Berkeley iSchool, 2017
MIT Media Lab, 2017

Embracing infrastructure constraints in the Global South
UC Berkeley ICTD, 2017
BayCHI, 2017
Georgia Tech GVU, 2017
Stanford HCI, 2017

Technology research in emerging markets
UC Berkeley ICTD, 2017
Georgia Tech ICTD, 2017
Google ICTD workshop, 2016
DePaul University, 2016
ITAM Mexico, 2015
Inaugural HCI lecture at Kofi Annan Center, Ghana, 2012

Enabling access in India and Ghana
University of Michigan, 2016

Research in resource-constrained environments
Google I/O, 2016

The 6C framework for product design in emerging markets
Google I/O, 2015

Designing mobile technologies for social impact
Liberation Technologies seminar @ Stanford, 2013