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The Beauty and Usefulness of Differential Privacy
June 19, 2024

Thomas Sargent is the winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Economics, for his empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy. He is one of the leaders of the "rational expectations revolution" and makes the theory of rational expectations statistically operational.

Professor Sargent shared his understanding of the recent development of differential privacy. He emphasized the great potential of this field and reinterpreted the main issues from an economic perspective.

Transcript 

Thomas Sargent:

Okay. Thank you. And thanks, Long, for this invitation.

As I just mentioned, I'm trying to learn from this report and associated things. So here's something that this helped me learn about. There's a literature among data scientists called differential privacy. It's both useful and beautiful. What the game is, is to construct queries that are invariant to removing people from the dataset, and the general idea is to figure out how to do that. And one big tool on that was actually, the economist participated in the origin of this literature is what's called randomized response. And it's to collect data in a way that everybody in the process knows that noise have been added to the data in a way to ensure deniability of the person answering the question.

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