Profile

I’m a researcher, designer, engineer, journalist and musician interested in the intersection between AI, human-centered design, the reinvention of information access, and social progress as applied to a variety of spaces, including education, politics, law and healthcare. I also explore various approaches to human-machine collaboration in pursuit of generative art.

Education

PhD in Computer Science

2018 - Present
McCormick, Northwestern University

Currently a PhD Candidate in Prof. Kristian Hammond’s C3 Lab at Northwestern University, with a research focus on the reinvention of the human-data interface through the synthesis of various modes of machine learning and symbolic representation for natural language processing, intent-driven data analysis, rich conversational system design, and mixed-modality response generation. Research project work includes:

  • Northwestern Open Access to Court Records Initiative: Leading the design and development of the SCALES platform, a core component of an NSF-backed joint initiative involving computer and data scientists, legal scholars, journalists and policy experts aimed at building an “AI powered data platform that makes the details of the federal judiciary and insights into how it works available and accessible to every single person.” More details here. The core platform itself is being architected such that it can be leveraged in other domains and incorporate a wide variety of datasets.
  • Mim: Architecting and co-developing a rich conversational system aimed at question-answering by a process of question decomposition, sub-answer collection (culling candidate answers from a host of corpora, such as relevant APIs, open-source knowledge graphs, and encyclopedia articles) and evaluation, answer recombination (with relevant analysis), and response generation.
  • COVID Resource Map: Led the initial design and development and now collaborating on the expansion of a set of data acquisition pipelines for the collection, collation, and aggregation of various datasets related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including PPE resource shortages and surpluses at a per-hospital level, hospital bed availability, reported cases, reported deaths, unemployment data, proxies for consumer behavior, and a variety of others. Currently, a subset of the aggregated data is available for exploration via an interactive map at covid-resource-map.com.
  • The Advisor: Co-developing a conversational agent aimed at meaningful interactions with students around internships, job opportunities, class selections, and events. The system develops a profile of each individual through their searches and selections, aiding with suggestions and guidance as new opportunities or classes become available or the system discovers near-perfect matches that meet most of the student’s interests and criteria.
  • Pixie: Designed and developed a platform for the exploration of the latent space of GANs, as well as the creation of “human directed” music visualizations culled from those explorations. Currently pursuing a roadmap of feature additions.

Masters of Science in Journalism

2009 - 2010
Medill, Northwestern University

Earned an MSJ on a Knight Foundation scholarship aimed at bringing students with design and development skills and an interest or background in journalism to the Medill graduate program. While at Medill, graduate work included development of the American Visualizer, an app aimed at making census data accessible and useful to journalists through dynamic visualization; analysis of the media environment and impacts on the healthcare debate during 2009; and a FOIA-based research project associated with piecing together a timeline of events surrounding United 93 on 9/11.

BA in Journalism and Media Studies

2002 - 2006
St. Michael's College

While earning a BA, designed, built and maintained the first online student publication and hosted a weekly radio show on the college station.

Experiences

Director of Product Design

2016 - 2018
Narrative Science, Chicago

Led a team focusing on the conceptual, architectural and UX design of a natural language generation platform based on ontological modeling, data analytics and additional concepts leading to a host of awarded or pending patents (noted below).

Lead Product Designer

2014 - 2016
Narrative Science, Chicago

Led the design of an end-to-end platform for configurable NLG, inclusive of data ingestion and analysis, chart design and rendering, document creation and styling, and delivery mechanisms for integration with a host of external platforms.

Software Engineer

2011 - 2014
Narrative Science, Chicago

Co-defined and developed key components of a fully configurable, domain-independent natural language generation system.

Board Member

2009 - 2013
Rise Above Foundation, Worcester, MA

Served on the board of Rise Above Foundation, a nonprofit based in Massachusetts aimed at providing children in foster care with enriching activities, opportunities and experiences. In addition to board service, built the initial website as well as the web-based application and double-blind approval system, adhering to strict guidelines related to data security. To date, system has powered the application, review and approval process for thousands of grants for children in foster care in Massachusetts.

Freelancer

2009 - 2010
Various

Freelance work while pursuing a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University; included work for JW Player, OpenSky, Hospital Energy, Northwestern and other clients.

Lead Designer, Developer

2008 - 2009
JW Player (formerly LongTail Video), New York City

Lead designer and front-end engineer at company specializing in creating tools for video publishing and monetization; company properties include popular open-source media player, the JW Player. Maintained the website and aspects of registration and invoice systems including design, A/B testing, and SEO of highly trafficked player download pages.

Musician

2002 - Present
Various

Primary songwriter, lead vocalist, and producer for internationally touring band as well as a solo artist with multiple albums and collaborations. Played shows in 48 US States as well as roughly 30 countries to date, including Japan, Brazil, Russia, and much of Europe.

Patents

Paley, et al. Applied artificial intelligence technology for performing natural language generation (NLG) using composable communication goals and ontologies to generate narrative stories. U.S. Patent No. 10,762,304. September 1, 2020.
Paley, et al. Applied artificial intelligence technology for story outline formation using composable communication goals to support natural language generation (NLG). U.S. Patent No. 10,755,053. August 25, 2020.
Paley, et al. ​Applied artificial intelligence technology for ontology building to support natural language generation (NLG) using composable communication goals. U.S. Patent No. 10,719,542. July 21, 2020.
Paley, et al. Applied artificial intelligence technology for interactive story editing to support natural language generation (NLG)​. U.S. Patent No. 10,713,442. July 14, 2020.
Paley, et al. ​Applied artificial intelligence technology for narrative generation based on analysis communication goals.​ U.S. Patent No. 10,699,079. June 30, 2020.
Paley, et al. ​Applied artificial intelligence technology for determining and mapping data requirements for narrative stories to support natural language generation (NLG) using composable communication goals. U.S. Patent No. 10,585,983. March 10, 2020.
Paley, et al.​ Applied artificial intelligence technology for runtime computation of story outlines to support natural language generation (NLG)​. U.S. Patent No. 10,572,606. February 25, 2020.
Paley, et al. Method and system for configuring automatic generation of narratives from data​. U.S. Patent No. 10,185,477. January 22, 2019.
Birnbaum, et al. ​Automatic generation of narratives from data using communication goals and narrative analytics. (Patent Set) U.S. Patent No. 9,977,773, May 22, 2018; U.S. Patent No. 9,720,899, August 1, 2017; U.S. Patent No. 9,697,492, July 4, 2017; U.S. Patent No. 10,755,042, August 25, 2020.
Hammond, et al. ​Automatic generation of narratives from data using communication goals and narrative analytics​. U.S. Patent No. 9,576,009. February 21, 2017.

Selected Publications/Presentations

Innovation Leaders Panel, Merck Innovation Summit, Panel Member, October 2019
Public Forum: Artificial Intelligence, Health & Society at the Equity, Diversity, & Data Science in Genomics Workshop, University of Illinois/NHGRI, Panel Member, September 2019
The Future of AI: Ethical Questions and Human-Centered Design, Chicago Product Strategy and Design meetup, Panel Member, March 2019
AI and the Importance of Trust and Respect," VentureBeat, January 2017
Jim Hayes Symposium panel member discussing the future of journalism, Cal Poly, October 2016
Future of Design Panel, TechWeek Chicago, Panel Member, June 2016