Symposium – Summer School Public Opening

Translating data, from humans to machines and back again

The EuADS Summer School “Data Science for Social Media” is opened by a public event the day before. The main talk is the Sabine-Krolak-Schwerdt-Lecture (en memorium of our founding president), for which we invite prestigious speakers from the field of data science.


13h00 – 14h00Registration and Coffee
14h00 – 15h00Opening and Welcome
Marc Hansen
Minister Delegate for Digitalisation
Peter Flach
EuADS President
15h30 – 17h00Sabine Krolak-Schwerdt Public Lecture
The Whisper Challenge – The Rule of Proxies
Mireille Hildebrandt
Professor at Vrije University Brussels, Belgium
17h00Welcome Reception

The Symposium on Tuesday is
free, but a registration is required:


Chambre de Commerce
7, rue Alcide de Gasperi

The Whisper Challenge - The Rule of Proxies in Data Science

Mireille Hildebrandt (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

To develop a learner algorithm we must tell the algorithm what and/or how to learn, which goes for supervised (labelling), reinforcement (machine-consumable goal) and unsupervised (choice of the training data, objective function). This requires a dedicated effort in translation, transforming relevant natural language concepts that inform the specific data science quest into variables, datasets and/or mathematical functions. The act of translation results in the use of proxies that stand for whatever concept we aim to operationalise. As machine learning and data science cannot work with human concepts one could say the domain is ruled by proxies and the output of an ML system will necessarily depend on the choice of the proxies. Subsequently the output must be rendered, explained and often ‘sold’ in human language, again requiring an act of translation. In this lecture I will investigate to what extent the rule of proxies is a game of ‘Chinese whispers’ and how this may affect the reconfiguration of real life challenges.

Speaker's Website