Hello, World!

By Cindy Zeng | October 20, 2020

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Hello, World! My name is Cindy Zeng and I just joined the NDI DemTech team as a Project Assistant.


In undergrad, I completed a double major in applied mathematics and history. Through studying math, algorithms, and artificial intelligence, I grew interested in the ethics of data collection and consequently the intersection of technology, policy, and democracy. At the NDI, I’m interested in exploring disinformation, election interference, and their implications on governance and democracy. 


Technological giants hold colossal power over how and what information is presented to users. Our world becomes increasingly technological every day, yet history has shown that development without consideration to individual rights is dangerous. Simply look towards the world’s response to coronavirus, which was accompanied by false information, hate speech, and political polarization. Solving these problems proves an intricate, ambitious, and creative challenge. For example, how do we strike a balance between content moderation and voter rights, or political disinformation and free expression? How do we respond to the risks of artificial intelligence and government surveillance, let alone the innate racial biases encoded in our algorithms?


Fundamentally, I am a data optimist. As part of my AI class in undergrad, I helped create a COVID-19 search engine using a TF-IDF model that retrieved relevant biomedical academic articles based on keywords. I also helped create a machine learning predictor of hospital readmissions given certain symptoms and data points of an individual. I believe that technological development can benefit us all if we incorporate democratic ideals into our design. At the NDI, I hope to help make this design a reality.


When not engaged in the digital global space, I love hiking, canoeing, film photography, and literary nonfiction. One of my dreams is to hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail!


I am very excited to join the DemTech team and work towards better technology, transparent governance, and international collaboration.