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at the Berkman Klein Center & MIT Media Lab

Assembly, at the Berkman Klein Center & MIT Media Lab, gathers developers, managers, and tech industry professionals for a rigorous spring term course on internet policy and a twelve-week collaborative development period to explore hard problems with running code.

Each Assembly cohort comes together around a defined challenge. In 2017, the Assembly pilot program focused on the future of digital security. The cohort’s outputs are featured on the 2017 program and project pages.

Our new cohort in 2018 will come together to tackle the challenges of artificial Intelligence and its governance. Applications are open! Read more below to find out about the program and how to apply.

About Assembly

Assembly is a program held at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the MIT Media Lab, that explores different modes of education, collaboration, and development.

The first iteration of the program ran from January to April 2017. Made up of sixteen developers and tech industry professionals from various sectors - private, public, civil, academia – the cohort had an unique opportunity to collaborate with other skilled developers across industries and backgrounds, to step back from day-to-day goals, and to explore novel solutions to deep problems. Their mission during the pilot? To investigate solutions to digital security issues. Visit the program and project page to see what the cohort accomplished.

Split into three parts - a class, a design period, and a development period - Assembly challenges participants to build tools and technologies inspired by the class, the design process, and their own insights.

Drawing from the successes and lessons learned during the pilot program, we will launch the second iteration of Assembly in January 2018. Continue reading below to learn more about the upcoming program.

Photo by: Andy Ryan

Assembly 2018 Program

After a successful run of the Assembly pilot program, the Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab have combined forces, as part of the larger Ethics and Governance in Artificial Intelligence Initiative, to support a second iteration of the program with a new challenge. The 2018 Assembly program, beginning in January and ending in April 2018, will challenge Assemblers to think about problems and solutions related to artificial intelligence and its governance. The program includes three components: a two-week team building and design thinking process, a spring term internet policy class, and a twelve-week action-oriented development period.

The 2018 Assembly cohort will include fifteen to twenty individuals who will each contribute different skill sets and perspectives. We encourage developers, project managers, designers, communicators and other technology professionals from various sectors – private, public, civil society, and academia – to apply. Throughout the program, participants will expand their expertise and learn from their peers and experts in the space. In addition, participants will have opportunities to interact with the diverse and multidisciplinary Berkman Klein and MIT Media Lab communities.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and complex algorithms developments are rapidly changing. We endeavor to create a program where passionate developers, researchers, and managers can collaborate, develop, and innovate with those in various sectors.

Assembly Program Components

Team Building and Design Thinking

Assembly is a highly interactive program. It requires participants to collaborate on one or more projects. The first two weeks will be devoted to team building activities, skill sharing sessions, and design thinking exercises. During the design thinking process, the cohort will explore project ideas proposed by AI experts, Assembly Advisors, and individual members of the cohort. After these first two weeks, participants will have settled on projects they plan to pursue with their preliminary project teams during the development period.

The Class

Throughout the program, the cohort will participate in a spring term class at MIT in Cambridge, MA co-taught by Professor Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Center, and Professor Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab. Class participants will include the Assembly cohort, Harvard Law and other graduate school students, and MIT graduate students. The class will cover foundational technical, philosophical , and legal material that grapples with emerging problems in the artificial intelligence and governance space. The class will begin with an intensive three-day conference after which the class will meet once a week for the remainder of the term.

The Development Period

The main portion of the program is the development period. In their project teams, the cohort will develop the project ideas chosen during the design process with continued guidance and input from the Assembly Advisory Board. The Advisory Board – which includes Harvard and MIT professors, tech industry professionals, and artificial intelligence experts – will meet with Assembly project teams every two weeks throughout the development period.

At the end of the development period, the Assembly project teams will present their outputs to the Advisory Board and Berkman Klein and MIT Media Lab communities.

Throughout the program, Assembly staff will provide light project management, including a guided design process and weekly group check-ins. However, participants will ultimately take the lead in setting and fulfilling their own goals in response to the Assembly challenge.

2018 Program Applications

Applications are now closed. We are currently reviewing all applications and applicants will be notified in the coming month.

The Assembly program is an opportunity for intellectually curious and energetic individuals to expand their expertise, form lasting relationships with like-minded individuals and collaborate on a hands-on project related to artificial intelligence and governance.

We are looking for applicants with experience in one or more of the following areas who also have an interest in artificial intelligence and governance issues:

A diverse range of skill sets is essential to the success of the cohort. We encouraged all to apply.

Requirements and Expectations

The program will run from mid-January to April 2018.

We want to ensure that all cohort members are able to participate to their own fullest extent. For certain parts of the program, specifically in the first two weeks, we will require full-time, in person participation. Participants will be able to participate remotely for the rest of the program, with the understanding that scheduling can be difficult.

Below is more detail about our expectations for participation. Please do not be shy about getting in touch if you have concerns about the schedule.

Team Building and Design Thinking

These two weeks are incredibly important for the cohort’s team dynamic and overall success. This time allows Assemblers the opportunity to get to know one another and the community, become familiar with one another’s skill sets, and identify project ideas that they plan to pursue throughout the development period. We require each cohort member to be fully present at Harvard University and MIT for the two-week team building and design thinking process.


The class will kick off with a three-day conference. All Assembly cohort members will be expected to attend the full conference in person. Participants may be able to attend the remaining class sessions remotely.

Development Period

During the development period, we require a commitment of twenty hours per week. If possible, we encourage participants to engage and collaborate in-person throughout the twelve weeks. However, remote participation is also allowed and the staff will do their best to ensure that any technical needs are addressed.

Additionally, there will be approximately six Advisory Board meetings throughout the development period and the final project presentations at the end of the program. Remote participation can be accommodated during the Advisory Board meetings if necessary, however we have found that in-person discussions are often the most fruitful for these sessions. All will be expected to attend the final presentations in-person.

Costs, Reimbursements, and Visas

There is no tuition for participation in the program and course at MIT. Small stipends will be provided to each Assembler to help defray the the cost of travel or other expenses. We are unfortunately unable to provide visa sponsorship for participation in the Assembly. If you have concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Applications are now closed. We are currently reviewing all applications and applicants will be notified in the coming month.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at


Assembly is a project run out of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the MIT Media Lab.

If you have any questions about the program or would like to get in touch, please email us at