Assembly

at the Berkman Klein Center & MIT Media Lab

Assembly is a collaboration of the Berkman Klein Center & the MIT Media Lab. The program gathers technologists, managers, and policymakers to confront emerging problems at the intersection of technology and society. Over four months, participants get to know each other, learn together and with Harvard and MIT faculty, and develop projects that explore hard problems and lead to outputs.

This fall, Assembly is entering its fourth iteration. In 2017, the Assembly pilot program focused on the future of digital security. Check out our first cohort's bios and project pages. In 2018 and 2019, our second and third cohorts came together to tackle the challenges of artificial intelligence and its governance. Read the 2018 cohort's bios and check out their projects; and explore the 2019 cohort's bios and learn about their projects.

About Assembly

Assembly is a program hosted by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the MIT Media Lab to encourage interdisciplinary learning, collaboration across sectors, and the conversion of ideas into tools and actionable policies.

Assembly's structure allows participants to step back from day-to-day goals and to explore novel solutions to deep problems. The program runs for four months, and includes team-building, ideation, a short course, and a project development period.

The first iteration of the program ran from January to April 2017. The cohort was made up of sixteen developers and tech industry professionals from various sectors - private, public, civil, academia – who collaboratively investigated solutions to digital security problems. Visit the program and project page to see what the cohort accomplished.

The second iteration ran from January to April 2018 and focused on artificial intelligence and its governance. The nineteen-person interdisciplinary cohort included machine learning experts, project managers, policymakers, a historian, and an artist. Read the 2018 cohort's bios, check out their projects, and read a profile of the program by Forbes Insights.

The third iteration of the program ran from March to June 2019, and again tackled AI ethics and governance. The seventeen-person cohort developed four projects. Read more about the process of developing those projects here.

Photo by: Andy Ryan

Assembly 2020 Program

The Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab have again combined forces to support a fourth iteration of Assembly. We’re thrilled to share that in 2020, Assembly will focus on disinformation from a cybersecurity perspective. The program will draw on our long history of work on disinformation, media policy, intermediaries and platforms, cybersecurity, and other relevant areas; as well as our expertise developing new ideas across sectors, and then embodying them as institutions, protocols, and ideas.

Assembly is a program where professionals with experience working in the disinformation space can learn, collaborate, and innovate together.

Applications for Assembly 2020 will launch later this summer, along with more information about the program. We’ll be recruiting a cohort with experience tackling disinformation and related problems across sectors

Assembly 2020 Program Components

Team Building and Ideation

At the beginning of the program, the cohort's time will be devoted to team building activities, skill sharing sessions, and ideation exercises. During the ideation process, the cohort will explore scoped problem spaces and potential project ideas. During these first two weeks, participants will settle on projects to pursue during the development period with preliminary project teams.

Learning

In the first weeks of the program, the cohort will participate in a series of seminars and discussions, co-taught by Professor Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Klein Center, and Professor Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab. The sessions will cover foundational technical, social , and legal material in the disinformation space. In addition to Professors Zittrain and Ito, we will bring in expert speakers throughout the program.

The Development Period

The main portion of the program is the twelve-week development period. The cohort will divide into project teams and execute project ideas developed during the ideation process. Teams are supported by Assembly staff and an expert Advisory Board, which includes Harvard and MIT professors, tech industry professionals, and artificial intelligence experts. The Advisory Board will meet with Assembly project teams every few 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 facilitated team-building, a guided ideation process, and regular group check-ins. However, participants and teams will take the lead in setting and fulfilling their goals.

Contact

Assembly is a project run out of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the MIT Media Lab. The project is part of the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund.

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