I'm Stephen Yang, researching
desirable futures with technologies
PhD Researcher @ Annenberg School for Communication @ University of Southern California
Responsible AI。Technology Design and Innovation。Computer and Media Industries。Temporalities and Futurities
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Who's Stephen?
I'm Stephen Yang, a critical and interpretive scholar of technology design and innovation, computer and media industries, and temporalities and futurities.

Presently, I'm a PhD student at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, where I'm supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s  Graduate Research Fellowship. In Summer 2024, I'm interning at the Center for Democracy & Technology as part of the AI Governance Lab.

To bridge research and practice, I work toward anticipatory foresight to guide the responsible innovation of nascent technologies like generative 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 and opportunities. You can find me on X (formerly Twitter) or reach out to me at stepheny [at] usc [dot] edu. You can also book a meeting with me through Calendly.
Current research
Broadly, I study how media and computing technologies, such as generative AI, reify particular visions of what futures we are creating. I examine the power that underpins dominant visions of technofutures, the people and things that are left out of these imaginaries, as well as alternative possibilities of dreaming otherwise.

With an eye on temporality, my doctoral research traces the sociotechnical imaginaries of speed and timescales — from the emergence of mass communication to the generative AI moment. I examine the cultures and systems — from journalism, government agendas, to corporate visions — that bring forth dominant narratives of accelerated futures, and I foreground alternative orientations of time, production, and agency. My current projects look at the accelerating conditions of human expressivity, AI as a figure of speed, and the timescales of technofutures.

My research integrates theories and methods from Sociology, Science and Technology Studies (STS), and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). I primary draw on humanistic, qualitative-interpretive, and design-futuring approaches.
Download my CV
In the past...
Previously, I served as an expert consultant for Partnership on AI, a nonprofit committed to the responsible use of artificial intelligence. In addition, I was a research intern at the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England, where I studied the emerging trends of creator culture and th future of work with Nancy Baym. You can read about our research here.

I hold a B.S. in Communication and Information Science from Cornell University, where 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.  
Recent Updates
    • Summer' 24 -  This summer, I will intern at the Center for Democracy & Technology, where I will conduct policy research as part of the AI Governance Lab! As I spend my summer in Washington, D.C., I will also participate in the Consortium on Media Policy Studies (COMPASS).
    • ICA' 24 -  I will be presenting two papers at annual conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) this year! One on news media's projected futures of generative AI amidst the 2023 Hollywood strikes (as part of a panel on genAI and cultural production), another one the infrastural integration of a mobile-centric, AI-infused workflow for TikTok creation. See you in Gold Coast!
    • Jan 25, 2023 -  I just presented our EAAMO'23 paper on participatory approaches to AI design (co-authored with Fernando Delgado, Michael Madaio, and Qian Yang) for Data & Society's series on participatory methods series on AI design and accountability!
    • November 4, 2022 -  I just presented my project, "“Secrecy as Self-Making: Mobile Media Tactics in Underground Electronic/Dance Music Scenes," at the 23rd annual meeting of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) in Dublin!
    • September 23, 2022 -  I published an article that synthesizes the social, economic, and organizational logic of content creation on the Social Media Collective blog!
    • May 31, 2022 -  I started my internship at Microsoft Research New England this summer! I'm working with Nancy Baym, Mary Gray, and Tarleton Gillespie at the Social Media Collective.
    • May 28, 2022 -  I graduated summa cum laude from Cornell University as the inaugural Degree Marshal for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science!
    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 career in research or responsible AI? Send me an email with any questions you may have at stepheny[at] usc [dot] edu.