EMNLP 2020 Queer in AI Social

Organized by Pranav, Vasundhara, Luca, Sabine, Naomi, Willie

Queer in AI is throwing virtual socials at EMNLP 2020. People of all identities (including allies) are invited to attend. EMNLP registration is not required to attend the social.

Overview & How to Join

We are organizing three 2 hour socials. Click on the links to get the time conversion with DST correction.

Social A [Zoom]: 9 am Hong Kong (Nov 17) / 5 pm Vancouver (Nov 16) / 10 pm São Paulo (Nov 16) (convert to your timezone)

Social B [Zoom]: 11 am New York (Nov 18) / 5 pm Berlin (Nov 18) / 9.30 pm Delhi (Nov 18) (convert to your timezone)

Social C [Gather.Town]: 12 pm Vancouver (Nov 21) / 8 pm Edinburgh (Nov 21) (convert into your timezone)

The first hour of the socials A and B will include a presentation from the organizers, mini-speeches by the speakers and a word from our sponsors. The next hour of the social will consist of discussions (formal and informal) in the form of 20-30 minute zoom breakout rooms. Social C will be exclusively in gather.town.

To join, check-in by filling up this form.

We have sent out most of the emails who registered, so please check your inboxes or spam. If you didn't receive the email or you didn't register, please check-in using the above form as well.

Reach out to the organizers directly by emailing to queer-in-nlp@googlegroups.com.

Social A Speakers

Delip Rao (he/him): Delip is a perpetual graduate student and thinks he works on NLP, but he is increasingly unsure if he's learning anything about language, or even understands what language is. He has filled different roles from a happy researcher/hacker to a startup founder and executive to a non-profit tech activist. His recent book on NLP and Deep Learning was the most pirated in the NLP category. He lives in San Francisco, and shares overshares on Twitter @deliprao.

His talk will be on "How you shape work and how work shapes you", drawing upon on his personal experiences as a card-carrying homosexual.

Lil Miss Hot Mess (she/her): Lil Miss Hot Mess is known for her activism and high-concept performances: she helped lead the #MyNameIs campaign against Facebook's so-called "real names" policy, is one of the forces behind Drag Queen Story Hour, and has performed everywhere from San Francisco's legendary worker-owned bar The Stud to Saturday Night Live. By day, she is an artist and PhD student in Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU, and her writing has appeared in The Guardian, Salon, and Wired, among others. (Twitter: @LilMissHotMess)

Lil Miss Hot Mess will talk about her art, activism, and research on drag performance in digital culture, highlighting the ways in which drag as a form has adapted and also what technologists can learn from drag queens. She'll share insights from the #MyNameIs campaign as well as a photography project about drag and facial recognition.

Theresa (“Tess”) Tanenbaum (she/her): Tess Tanenbaum is an assistant professor of Informatics at UC Irvine, where she runs the Transformative Play Lab. Her work seeks to understand and create XR interactive storytelling systems that support acts of "restorying" - a process by which marginalized and oppressed people re-imagine their pasts in order to reclaim agency and power that has been systemically denied to them. She’s spent the last 16 months annoying major publishers into implementing trans inclusive name change policies. (Twitter: TessTenanbaum)

Dr. Tanenbaum will discuss her experiences as the lead author of the Association of Computing Machinery’s new(ish) name change policy and reflect on some of the significant challenges trans authors face when seeking to eliminate their deadname from previous publications.

Social B Speakers

Jasmijn Bastings (she/her): Depending on when you read this, Jasmijn Bastings will either hopefully soon get, or has already gotten, a PhD from the University of Amsterdam, and now she currently spends her days biking around Berlin or researching Explainable AI at Google. In her spare time, she runs until she gets tired, boulders until her muscles ache, and reads books while listening to podcasts, until she realizes that that doesn’t work very well. (Twitter: bastings_nlp)

In her talk, she will tell the story of how her blog post about neural machine translation became a real-life usable tool, and highlight the importance of “paying it forward” by sharing what you’ve learned with the community.

Naomi Saphra (they/she): Naomi Saphra (aka award-winning roller derby star, Gaussian Retribution) is a current PhD student at University of Edinburgh studying the emergence of linguistic structure during neural network training. They aren't afraid to make enemies by saying the pandemic has been great for their love life by trapping their girlfriend in Scotland. They have been called "the Bill Hicks of radical AI-critical comedy" exactly once. (Twitter: @nsaphra)

They will be talking about their experience as someone who relies on speech recognition to code. Disabled people have always been hackers, and as the tools we rely on become more opaque, we need allies to keep them open in every sense.

Irving Rettig (he/him): Irving is a 5th year PhD candidate in Photochemistry at Portland State University. He has worked closely with the American Chemical Society (ACS) to develop and implement trans inclusive publishing policies and has helped push the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) to revisit their guidelines on author name change. (Twitter: @irv_does_chem)

This talk is aimed at defining gender biases that exist within the STEM fields and outlining their repercussions within the trans community, emphasizing impacts to trans authors. Particular detail will be paid to addressing why many name change policies within STEM publishing are not supportive of trans authors, how these issues have been successfully remediated, and how trans inclusivity can continue to be centered in publishing and academia.

Call for Volunteers

We are looking for volunteers for Queer in AI socials. The volunteer positions include moderating, livetweeting, organizing dry runs and so on. The estimated time commitment is around 2-4 hours around the conference dates.

We also have other positions include conference-specific volunteers, workshop organizers, and some of our planned initiatives like Queer in Robotics.

Upon filling up this form you get to join Queer in AI's slack where you can meet our awesome team of volunteers and brainstorm with them in our fortnightly meetings.

Financial Aid

Queer in AI and EMNLP are offering financial aid for queer researchers to attend the virtual EMNLP 2020 conference. The funding includes financial aids for registration, internet connection, VPN and so on.

You can fill out either EMNLP funding form or Queer in AI's funding form (we strongly suggest filling up both of these).


For any concerns or questions, please reach out to any of us either on Rocketchat or our contact info given in our websites. Your concerns will be kept confidential.

Vasundhara (she/xe/they) (Social A host): Vasundhara is a queer brown woman who gets excited about language, code and birds. She currently works as a Speech Recognition Engineer at Dialpad on language modelling, the lexicon, and improving the transcription of keywords, names and numbers. She spends her free time doing pandemic things (piano, walks, reading, and gaming)! (Twitter: @VasundharaNLP)

Luca Soldaini (he/him) (Social B host) is an Applied Scientist at Amazon, where he works on QA models to make sure that Alexa can respond to questions such as "Who is the best dancer in RuPaul Drag Race?". His research interests include generative and ranking models for spoken language understanding systems. In his free time, he enjoys running, dreaming about utopian mass transit systems, and curating his laptop stickers collection. (Twitter: @soldni)

Pranav A (he/they): Determined to make everything chaotic and gay, Pranav has received complaints from his neighbours for performing lame lipsyncs in the lifts and has injured his back while trying a sickening deathdrop. In the mornings at Sentinel AI, he designs radical AI systems to identify and flag disinformation campaigns against queer people, and in the nights, he researches on multilingual multitask multimodal systems. (Twitter: @QueerZoomer)

Sabine Weber (she/her): She is a queer PhD student at the University of Edinburgh researching predicate entailment while being annoyed about the lack of multilingual tools. Her office has a unicorn. In her free time she misses Berlin, naps and makes lino print art. (Twitter: @multilingual_s)

Code of Conduct

Please read Queer in AI code of conduct which will be strictly followed in the social. Recording (screen recording or screenshots) is prohibited. All participants are expected to maintain the confidentiality of the members.

EMNLP 2020 adheres to the ACL Anti-Harassment Policy and Queer in AI adheres to Queer in AI Anti-harassment policy. Any participant who experiences harassment or hostile behavior may contact any current member of the ACL Executive Committee or contact Queer in AI Safety Team. Please be assured that if you approach us, your concerns will be kept in strict confidence, and we will consult with you on any actions taken.

Platinum Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Credits for the Pride ACL logo: Cassidy Henry and Emma Manning from this thread.