Sara Kingsley

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I am currently a PhD Scholar in Computer Science (HCI/AI/NLP) at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. 

I study how to design online communities and software platforms for data science, social assistance, and government services. I do this by applying the tools of applied microeconomics (in particular, labor economics), machine learning, NLP, and other computational social sciences to study the economic, policy and human factors that impact the economic opportunities people have.

I have graduate-level training in economics & econometrics, and a B.A. in Social Thought & Political Economy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

I am a member of the working group on Data Economies & Governance for Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG). I previously co-organized the group with Swathi Sadagopan and George Obaido (2019-2020). Before, I co-organized the Online Labor Markets (OLM) group with Manish Ragahavan (2018-2019).

My co-conspirators in research include: Jeff Bigham (CMU), Shamika Goddard (Colorado), Rediet Abebe (Berkeley), George Obaido (Witwatersrand), Carolyn Rose (CMU), Casey Fiesler (Colorado), Elena Glassman (Harvard), Kehinde Aruleba (Witwatersrand), Abeba Birhane (UCD), Dr. Six Silberman (Organise UK), Motahhare Eslami (CMU), Dr. Araba Sey (RIA Africa), and many stellar undergraduate students who I learn from and who inspire my reasons for doing a PhD.

Research Interests

I examine how software, algorithms and mechanisms (these include information or means of communication) allocate resources and economic opportunities among people. My interest is to understand if the outcomes of machine decisions are equitable.

In cases where software causes harm, e.g., a demographic group is disadvantaged by decisions and how resources are distributed, I study what tools might help address this. Tools can include public policy, modifying the design of hardware, software, and reforming algorithms (or getting rid of them in the decision-making process).

The hope of my work is to imagine resolutions or commitments that address social problems in computing. The resolutions that my work explores include those that are diagnostic in nature (cf. Abebe et. al. 2020, "Roles for Computing"). An example of diagnostic work in computing could include auditing social media platforms for digital discrimination in advertising. 

Ultimately, computation is just one tool in a wide menu of options that allow us to learn about opportunity and justice and distribution in a society. Computer scientists have a responsibility to understand how the tools they build amplify (and cause) harm, and this is the focus of my work.

Creative Design


I have worked for the Chief Economist of Microsoft Corporation and for the technology policy team of Microsoft's Chief Legal Officer. I also have completed a number of PhD internships with Microsoft Research.

I started my career in public service. I worked for President Barack Obama at the U.S. Department of Labor as a Legislative Officer to Congress. Before joining the Obama Administration, I worked as a Staff Assistant for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). During my time in the Senate, I helped senior counsel of the late U.S Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts work on the Affordable Care Act (through committee) and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act (through senate passage [congressional record]), both formative experiences that have continued to shape my career to date.

Other formative experiences include working with a team of network engineers, another economist, and lawyers to deploy and study Wi-Fi networks in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, and Tanzania; as well as in the Philippines, and in Virginia, United States. I played a very small part in helping another team of network engineers launch a submarine fiberoptic cable that now crosses the Atlantic ocean, from Virginia beach to Bilboa, Spain. The cable is named Marea.

First Aid

“The things you do for others remain”

Kalu Ndukwe Kalu