Dr. Nithya Sambasivan

Dr. Nithya Sambasivan is an award-winning scientist, writer, entrepreneur, and musician. She is currently building a stealth startup with Jose Faleiro, that aims to address AI’s intrinsic deficiencies in the real world.
Nithya’s seminal work on AI’s model myopia, such as data cascades, disregard for domain expertise, and shortcomings of west-/white-centric algorithmic fairness has led to new research areas, new products, and inclusive public policy. Her research has been widely covered in venues like VentureBeat, ZDnet, Scroll.in, O’Reilly, New Scientist, State of AI report, and HackerNews, while influencing the Indian government’s strategy for responsible AI and motivating the NeurIPS Datasets track.
As a research scientist, Nithya pioneered several original, award-winning research initiatives at Google such as responsible AI in the Global South, human-data interaction, gender equity online, constrained Internet access, and next billion users, which fundamentally shaped the company’s strategy for emerging markets and landed as products affecting millions of users including in Station, Search, YouTube, Maps, & more. She founded and managed a blueprint Human-Computer Interaction team in Google Research Bangalore, and set up the Accra, Ghana team, from scratch. Nithya’s research has received several best paper awards at top-tier computing conferences. She has a PhD. in Information and Computer Sciences from the University of California, Irvine and MS in Human-Computer Interaction from Georgia Tech. Nithya has also worked at Microsoft Research and IBM Research.
Nithya is a student of Black American music under Maestro and Nola Curtis.

nithyasambasivan.at.work [at] gmail [dot] com


Talk: Myopia of Model Centrism


Selected Publications

Ramesh, D., Kameswaran, V., Wang, D., Sambasivan, N.
How Platform-User Power Relations Shape Algorithmic Accountability: A Case Study of Instant Loan Platforms and Financially-Stressed Users in India
FAccT 2022 [PDF]

Sambasivan, N.
All Equation, No Human: The Myopia of Model Centrism
ACM interactions, 29(2) (March 2022) [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Veeraraghavan, R.
The Deskilling of Domain Expertise in AI Development
CHI 2022 [PDF] [Talk]

Kapania, S., Siy, O., Clapper, G., SP, A., Sambasivan, N.
“Because AI is 100% right and safe”: User Vulnerabilities and Sources of AI Authority in IndiaCHI 2022 [PDF]

Sambasivan, N.
Seeing like a Dataset from the Global South
ACM interactions 28(4) (July 2021). [PDF]

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] [Blog] [Talk]
[Best of CHI]

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

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., 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]

Sambasivan, N. and Cutrell, E.
Understanding Negotiation in Airtime Sharing in Low-income Microenterprises.
CHI 2012. [PDF]
[Best of CHI Honourable Mention]

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]

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]

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