Date Posted: 2/22/2021

Chenhao Tan, who earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2016 under the direction of Charles Roy Davis Professor of Computer Science, Lillian Lee, has joined the faculty of Computer Science at The University of Chicago. In his work, Tan focuses on human-centered AI, natural language processing, and computational social science. In the last year, he has received an NSF Career Award, an IBM Faculty Award, and Amazon Research Award, and a Salesforce Research Award. He is currently lead PI on a Fairness in AI (FAI) project with the National Science Foundation: "Towards Adaptive and Interactive Post Hoc Explanations."

Tan describes his three main areas of interests:

Language and social dynamics:

  • The effect of wording, how language influences social interaction, e.g., persuasion, information sharing, media selection of highlights from presidential debates.
  • The ecosystem of ideas, how ideas relate to each other and evolve over time, e.g., idea relations and lost in propagation.

Human-centered machine learning:

  • how we can use machine learning to empower humans and augment human intelligence such as enhancing creativity and avoiding behavioral biases, e.g., human predictions along a spectrum between full human agency and full automation, human preferences of task delegation to AI, and creative writing with a machine in the loop, and the meta question of what tasks humans would like to delegate to AI systems, and to what extend. 

Multi-community engagement:

  • how a person interacts with multiple communities and how communities relate to each other, e.g., users' life trajectories, community genealogy, and migrant integration in urbanization.

Read a profile of Tan's approach to the future of human-centered AI:

Using approaches from computational social science, machine learning, and natural language processing, [Tan] has moved from understanding social media to his current focus on human-centered AI, where his research is organized around a big question: not only what AI can do, but also what AI should do for people. 

“I am interested in what we can learn about people with data and computation, and how we can use technology to enhance people and more broadly lead to a better society and improve our lives,” Tan said. 

Those interests place Tan at the intersection of many fields: computer science, data science, and human-computer interaction mixing with linguistics, psychology, and public policy.