I'm Stephen Yang,
a media and AI researcher
Social Scientist ◦ Public Interest Technologist ◦ Ph.D Researcher at the University of Southern California

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Who's Stephen?
I'm Stephen Yang, I study the technologies behind the future of work, how they come to be, how people make sense of them, and how they are transforming conceptions of expertise, authenticity, and human flourishing.

I'm a 1st-year PhD student at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, where I'm supported by the National Science Foundation's NSF GRFP Graduate Research Fellowship. I also work as an expert consultant for Partnership on AI on the topic of Inclusive AI.

Here, you can learn more about my research projects, look up my publications, or read about my reflections on my professional experiences.

I’m always open to new connections, collaborations, and potential opportunities. Feel free to follow me on Twitter or reach out to me at stepheny [at] usc [dot] edu.
Current research
My research concerns the future of work, digital culture, and responsible AI.

Broadly, my research concerns the contestation of expertise, authenticity, and human flourishing as we re-envision how we live and work with emerging technologies. I'm drawn to the gaps between the imaginaries, designs, and practices surrounding automated, data-driven, and mobile technologies. I also ruminate on how people may participate in the shaping and reimagining of technologies, integrating social scientific methods from qualitative-interpretive traditions with participatory, design-futuring approaches.

Presently, my doctoral research examines the changing rhythms of content creation brought forth by generative AI. From writing assistants, smart design templates, to automated audio mastering, I study how people -- technologists, media professionals, and everyday people -- make sense of the "speeding up" of content creation. I'm interested in how they contest  ``the future of work`` as a political project and what this means for our sociotechnical futures. To this end, my projects span the realm of social media content creation, journalism, music production, filmmaking, and architectural design.
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In the past...
Most recently, I was a research intern at the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England, where I studied the social, economic, and organizational logic of content creation with Nancy Baym. You can read about our research here.

In May 2022, I graduated summa cum laude from Cornell University, with a B.S. in Communication and Information Science. I graduated as the Degree Marshal of the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, a Merrill Presidential Scholar, and a Rawlings Presidential Research Scholar.

Outside of academia, I have worked in journalism and advertising at organizations such as the Taipei Times and Wunderman Thompson.  
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Diversity and Inclusion
I'm a queer person of color who was born and raised outside of the United States. As someone who have affiliations with elite institutions, I often sit in between marginality and privilege. To put my commitment to diversity and inclusion in practice, I actively seek ways to reduce barriers to success for those coming from marginalized backgrounds. This often translates to sharing tacit knowledge I acquired from prior experience and from my position of privilege.

Are you a marginalized person contemplating a research or UX career? Send me an email with any questions you may have at stepheny[at] usc [dot] edu.