The Berkman Klein Center has worked to build a robust community and institutional activities leveraging the University as an educational and bridge-building force that has a unique role to play in ensuring that AI is used in service of the public good.
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 through courses and education programming that guide current and future decision-makers in the private and public sectors, as well as the public at large. Specific initiatives include:
Challenges Forums: These convenings bring together industry representatives with experts from across the BKC and MIT Media Lab communities to explore emerging ethical, technical, and policy challenges associated with the increased proliferation of AI systems and related technologies. Through closed-door workshops and dialogues, we aim to bridge knowledge and trust gaps. We are working with some of those participating organizations to create case studies that can be used to help engineers, policymakers, students, and others to navigate similar situations.To learn more about our first workshop, please visit the November 2018 AI and Ethics Workshop page.
Techtopia: Techtopia is a multidisciplinary research and teaching initiative at Harvard that brings together students and faculty around the biggest issues in tech today. In the 2018-2019 academic year, the program’s substantive focus was on challenges in the ethics and governance of AI space, and student-led projects ranged from a privacy browser plug-in to an AI procurement playbook. For more information, please visit the Techtopia page.
Assembly: Assembly, a program of the Berkman Klein Center & MIT Media Lab, gathers developers, managers, and tech industry professionals for an intensive spring course and development sprint focused on a particular challenge of digital technologies. In 2018 and 2019, the Assembly cohorts came together to tackle issues around AI and its governance. For more information, please visit the Assembly page.
University 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 AI. Recent courses include:
Applied Ethical and Governance Challenges in AI:In Spring 2019 and 2018 Joi Ito and Jonathan Zittrain taught this course, which pursues a cross-disciplinary investigation of the development and deployment of the opaque complex adaptive systems that are increasingly in public and private use.
AI and the Law: In Fall 2018 Urs Gasser led a Harvard Law School seminar in which students explored emerging ethical, legal, and governance questions triggered by AI.
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.
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 traditionally underrepresented 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). Released under an open-source license, Facebook has adopted these Learning Experiences and translated them into 30+ languages.
Cyberlaw Clinic: Harvard Law School‘s Cyberlaw Clinic, based at the Berkman Klein Center, provides high-quality, pro-bono legal services to appropriate clients on issues relating to the Internet, intellectual property, and new technology - including AI. Most recently, through a series of projects on AI and art, the Cyberlaw Clinic has released template license and collaboration agreements for AI-generated art. Education is a core part of the Cyberlaw Clinic, including teaching a seminar that incorporates instruction about substantive legal issues at the heart of the Clinic's practice, case studies and exercises designed to enhance students' practice skills, and consideration of questions of ethics and professional responsibility. For more information, visit the Cyberlaw Clinic page.
Safra Center AI Initiative Fellows-in-Residence: We have partnered with the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard to support two AI Initiative Fellows-in-Residence for 2019-2020. For more information, please visit the fellowship page.
Community Events: Kicking off with a community convening in June 2017 to forge collaborations and design new research programs around issues in the ethics and governance of AI, we have prioritized community building as a key dimension of our efforts to tackle AI’s societal challenges. 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.