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Ethics and Governance of AI Community and Education Activities

The Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab are building a robust community focused on the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence. This work takes the form of various programs and forums that bring together current and future thought-leaders from academia, civil society, and industry. Additionally, we are advancing a shared understanding of AI and its ethical and governance dimensions by guiding current and future decision-makers in the private and public sectors, as well as engaging in targeted pilot programs to educate the public at large. Specific initiatives include:

  • Convening Challenges Forums: We are bringing together industry representatives with experts from across the BKC and Media Lab communities to explore emerging ethical, technical, and policy  challenges associated with the increased proliferation of AI systems and related technologies. Through interviews and working sessions, we aim to bridge knowledge and trust gaps, as well as create resources such as  case studies that could be used to engineers, policymakers, students, and others navigate similar situations.

  • TechTopia: Over the past few years, faculty across the Harvard ecosystem have started thinking about the challenges and opportunities in teaching the ethics and governance of emerging digital technologies. TechTopia’s mission is to bring this community together to share best practices gleaned from existing and past efforts while fostering robust conversation about the role of higher education in preparing students to grapple with the complex social, ethical, political, and legal issues of emerging technology. Primary components of the program include piloting student programming through creation of a cohort of students with diverse backgrounds and skill sets, mapping the current curricular space at Harvard, and facilitating interdisciplinary curriculum development.

  • Assembly: AI Assembly combines different modes of education, collaboration, and development to work towards solving some of the tough problems at the intersection of AI and governance, bridging an important gap between the academic environment, where questions of social impact, ethics, and governance of AI are debated, and the realm of industry, where such technologies are designed, developed, and implemented. Building upon the successful 2016 pilot of the Assembly, which combined three weeks of rigorous education with a twelve-week action-oriented development period, our second program is bringing together high-level developers and experts from the public and private sectors for a collaborative development sprint around a defined AI challenge. For more information, please visit the Assembly page.

  • Safra Center AI Initiative Fellows-in-Residence: We have partnered with the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard to support up to two AI Initiative Fellows-in-Residence for 2019-2020. For more information, please visit the fellowship page.

  • Community Events: Fellows at the Berkman Klein Center have formed a working group to facilitate convenings of members from across the Berkman Klein and Media Lab communities with presentations on various work related to the ethics and governance of AI. These sessions are dedicated spaces for engaging in shared learning, building interfaces between research and projects across the Media Lab and the Berkman Klein Center, and strengthening community.

  • Developing Courses: Faculty working with the Berkman Klein Center and the Media Lab have offered courses on important topics related to the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence.

    • AY 2018-2019 courses

      • Applied Ethical and Governance Challenges in AI: In Spring 2019 Joi Ito and Jonathan Zittrain will teach this course, which will pursue a cross-disciplinary investigation of the development and deployment of the opaque complex adaptive systems that are increasingly in public and private use. 
    • Past courses

      • Compliance and Computation: In AY 2017-2018 John DeLong offered a seminar at Harvard Law School on "Compliance and Computation." This seminar examined the role of AI both as a solution and challenge for large institutions grappling with complex compliance standards.

      • Ethics and Governance of AI: Taught by Jonathan Zittrain and Joi Ito, this Spring 2018 course was the first iteration of their current "Applied Ethical and Governance Challenges in AI" course (above). More information about the course can be found here.

  • Developing Learning Experiences: A key element of our educational and outreach efforts is translating findings from different projects to make them accessible to a broader audience. The Berkman Klein Center is developing a dedicated set of open educational resources and playlists that help the general public – including underserved communities – better understand AI systems and engage with their ethical challenges. The resources are being co-designed with representatives of the targeted audiences, following an approach pioneered by BKC’s Youth and Media project and made accessible via the Digital Literacy Resource Platform (DLRP). Additionally, they have been adopted by Facebook and are currently being translated into 30+ languages by their team.

  • Capacity Building: The Berkman Klein Center and the Media Lab seek to support individuals whose work in code, ethics, philosophy, design, law, and policy contributes to our understanding of how AI systems may impact the public good. This includes faculty, fellows, students, researchers, affiliates, as well as international partners who are contributing to AI activities and are part of the global Network of Internet & Society Centers (NoC).

    A regularly updated list of AI Initiative contributors can be found here.