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. Read more about the 2018 cohort, with bios and links to their own pages, here.

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 is comprised of twenty individuals who will each contribute different skill sets and perspectives. We have developers, project managers, designers, communicators and other technology professionals from various sectors – private, public, civil society, and academia.

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

January 22 - February 3: Team Building and Design Thinking

During the first two weeks of the program, the cohort's time 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.

Want to follow along? Follow the @BKCHarvard Instagram story!

February 3 - April 20: 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.

February 3 - April 20: 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 Cohort

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 its governance. In forming the cohort, we looked for applicants with a passion for artificial intelligence and its governance and experience in one or more of machine learning and data science, developement, management, design, or communication.

We are thrilled to welcome our 2018 cohort in January. Twenty-one individuals, whose expertise and backgrounds range from industry experience, academia, and civil society work, will collaborate and innovate throughout the spring term of 2018. To read their bios, click on the individuals below or see the full page here.


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