We are thrilled to announce the 2018 cohort for the Assembly program at the Berkman Klein Center and MIT Media Lab. This year the cohort is comprised of twenty-one diverse participants representing the private sector, academia, and civil society organizations. Their task? To work on the emerging problems within artificial intelligence and its governance. Below, you can learn more about their interests and backgrounds.
Dhaval is a 4th year PhD student at the MIT Media Lab doing research in AI, computational social science and finance. He previously worked in finance after doing his masters in the MIT Technology Policy Program, and undergraduate in Physics also at MIT. He is interested in understanding how to optimally organize networks of human and AI agents, and how large groups of people can sense new information, and take action collectively. His work is relevant to improving deep reinforcement learning algorithms, improving financial trading, rewiring collaboration networks, crowd-sourcing, voting, and innovation. He grew up in Mauritius, and greatly enjoys cooking and running.
André Barrence is the Director of Campus São Paulo and leads Google for Entrepreneurs in Brazil with the goal of strengthening a vibrant ecosystem of startups and innovation. He holds a degree in Law and Public Administration, as well as a Master's degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and executive training from Harvard University. André knows intimately the various aspects of the startup and tech ecosystem, as well as public policies of innovation, education and economic development. He was the CEO of the Strategic Priorities Office of the Government of Minas Gerais between 2011 and 2014, co-founder and director of SEED – Startups and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Development, one of the country's most successful startups programs, – and director at Geekie, an education startup focused on personalized learning through technology. He is also an active advocate of new public policy for innovation and a co-founder of AGORA!, a civic movement that aims to impact the public agenda and political action in the country. In 2014, he was the winner of the Inspiring Youth Award and recognized as one of the young leaders for the future of Brazil.
Hallie is an experiment designer at Google, where she leads user and product testing to tackle bias and advocate for fairness in machine learning. She has spent the last decade solving problems at the intersection of social justice and business, and is currently pushing for the design and development of technology that is accessible to everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from. She is also an Ambassador with Google.org, where she supports non-profit organizations who promote racial justice and tech education to underserved populations in the Bay Area. Before joining Google, she spent five years in management consulting where she led cross-functional teams using technology to visualize the future of business with clients in a broad range of industries. In addition to her passion for social change, she spends as much time as possible salsa dancing, practicing yoga, and backcountry camping. Originally from Canada, she has an MA in Economics and Global Affairs from the Munk School at the University of Toronto, and a BA in Economics and Political Science from McGill University. She is thrilled to be joining the 2018 Assembly cohort.
Kasia Chmielinski is a technologist at the U.S. Digital Service working on improving government technology for the American public. Prior to USDS, Kasia was the Product and Partnerships Lead for Scratch, a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten group of the MIT Media Lab. Kasia got their start in technology at Google, and went on to be part of the founding team of ZestFinance, a startup that uses large-scale algorithms to predict credit risk. Kasia hails from Boston, but dabbled in architecture and engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong before graduating with a degree in physics from Harvard University. When not in front of a whiteboard or a keyboard, Kasia can be found making documentary films, especially within and for underrepresented populations, or upon a bicycle, cycling uncomfortably-long distances.
Jack Clark is the strategy and communications director of OpenAI, a non-profit AI research company dedicated to reducing the existential risk of strong artificial intelligence. His work predominantly focuses on policy and technical communications relating to AI, with a particular specialism on matters relating to AI safety and governance. He also helps to organize the AI Index, an initiative to track and analyze AI's progress and spread into society. On the weekends he writes a newsletter, Import AI, focused on cutting-edge AI research and applications (www.importai.net). Prior to OpenAI, Jack worked as a technical journalist, most recently for Bloomberg and BusinessWeek where he led the news organization's coverage of artificial intelligence. In his spare time he hikes, bicycles, and attends punk rock music shows where he tries – mostly unsuccessfully – to avoid talking about AI.
Jennifer Fernick s currently a PhD candidate in Mathematics (Computer Science – Quantum Information) at the University of Waterloo, where she is affiliated with the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Centre for Applied Cryptographic Research. She also holds a Master of Engineering in Systems Design Engineering, and a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Science & Artificial Intelligence from the University of Toronto. To Assembly, she brings knowledge of the subtleties of applied AI including algorithm design and complexity, privacy-preserving data mining, quantum machine learning, homomorphic encryption, hardware-accelerated computational neuroscience, and machine learning in adversarial environments. Jennifer is an experienced security researcher with keen interest in technology policy and the societal impact of emerging technologies. She has a wide range of technology experience including working on two distinct scientific satellite missions, serving as technical leadership within a global standards body, performing experimental neuroscience research, designing connectivity solutions for the world’s largest refugee camp to present before members of the UNHCR, and serving as the Senior Cryptographic Security Architect at a top-20 global bank, where she has engineered systems that collectively protect approximately $900 billion in assets. In her free time, she is also a co-organizer of Crypto & Privacy Village at DEF CON.
A former ship designer, national lab mathematician and Hollywood special effects artist, Gretchen Greene is a computer vision scientist and machine learning engineer working with Cambridge startups on everything from autonomous vehicles to QR codes in wearables. Also an attorney, Greene has worked on international energy, water and transportation policy, complex corporate tax transactions and criminal and civil litigation. Greene has a CPhil and MS in math from UCLA and a JD from Yale.
Sarah Holland is a Public Policy Manager at Google, where she is responsible for policy analysis and strategy development on consumer privacy, data innovation and artificial intelligence issues in the U.S. As part of that work, she represents Google externally, advises internal teams, builds partnerships with civil society and academia, and connects research with practice. Immediately prior to joining Google, she served for six years as a senior policy advisor to U.S. Senator Mark Pryor on technology, communications, and foreign policy issues. In that role, she also served as lead negotiator on internet accessibility and consumer protection bills bringing three to enactment, including the 21st Century Communications and Accessibility Act.
Ahmed Hosny is a data scientist, web developer and research junkie. He gets his fix by solving problems with machine learning. Currently at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, he uses deep learning to extract and explore knowledge from medical images. He is also intrigued by distributed learning methods, computation on encrypted data, and everything open-source. Previous research cravings involved modeling biological composites at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, designing hardware for image guided surgery at Brigham and Women’s hospital, as well as characterizing 3D printing materials at MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter group. As an architect in a former life, he worked in construction with Foster+Partners in Beijing and Playze in Shanghai. Ahmed is currently working on a PhD in Machine Learning at Maastricht University. He completed a Master of Design Studies in Technology at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Architecture at the American University of Sharjah. Cairo is his hometown and if he is not staring at his laptop, you can find him flying single engine planes, practicing Mandarin or eating chocolate chip cookies.
Josh has over a decade of experience solving real-world problems using the tools of machine learning in both academia and industry. The majority of his past ML work has been in finance from time co-founding a fully-automated, proprietary trading company, as a machine learning consultant, and as Chief Science Officer at Alpha Features. In addition to a wide breadth of experience in strategy discovery and validation using structured and unstructured data sources, he has also performed technical due diligence on over a hundred AI/ML hedge funds for an asset allocator. As a consultant and during his time as a graduate student, he also worked on projects such as an autonomous cell identification system for a life sciences company, pricing of co-working office spaces, modeling iRobot Roomba battery degradation, predicting taxi routes, and autonomous robot interaction with turbulent water flow. He received a B.S. in Applied Mathematics and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology and a S.M. and Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Thom Miano is a research data scientist in the Center for Data Science at RTI International. He is currently working on several deep learning projects in computer vision and multimodal sensing. Thom studies Artificial Intelligence as a multifaceted discipline, investigating the development of algorithmic architectures, the practical application of machine learning in health, education, and the arts, and the ethical implications of AI and data-driven technologies. Thom has a rich interdisciplinary background as an artist, musician, writer, and lecturer. He received an MS in Data Science and a BA in Political Philosophy, Policy, & Law from the University of Virginia.
Sarah Newman is a Creative Researcher at metaLAB at Harvard, and a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Working primarily in the areas of installation art and photography, she develops projects that deal with technology’s role in culture, examining the significance of the current moment both playfully and critically. Newman holds a BA in Philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in Imaging Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology; she has exhibited work in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Berlin, and Rome, and has held artist residencies in Germany and Sweden. Her current work explores the social and philosophical dimensions of artificial intelligence, the curious intersections of the human and the nonhuman, and using art as a means of engagement, education, and critique.
Francisco has a very eclectic background gained through his extensive international academic and professional career with studies in Spain, Sweden, Japan, Australia and USA. He also worked in Japan for 6 years developing a deep understanding of the business culture there, has been exposed to large international projects and has managed international teams. These days he is working in projects that touch very diverse fields like Data Science, AR/VR, Physics and cybersecurity. He is also an avid traveler and adventurer that so far have visited more than 60 countries across the globe.
Daniel Pedraza is an engineer, entrepreneur, and technologist from Mexico. He is passionate about leveraging technology at scale, has danced across several disciplines, and deeply relates to techno-optimist philosophies. Daniel is currently a Data Strategist at UNICEF. In addition, he recently co-founded Veilos, a deep-learning startup rethinking global insights for agriculture. Daniel's energy is full of optimism and a youthful naïveté, however he is fully aware there are inherent risks with all new technology. He has spent time looking at the open challenges to harnessing technology for public good, previously serving the United Nations as Data Innovation Specialist at Global Pulse, an innovation initiative harnessing big data for sustainable development and humanitarian action. Daniel is most inspired by working on solutions to intractable challenges that face humanity. In his spare time, he looks for opportunities and partners to help spark new ideas to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons as an advisor at N Square. As a child Daniel dreamt of becoming an astronaut, leading him to study aerospace engineering, focusing on computational methods and aerodynamics. He never made it into space.
Jonnie Penn is a New York Times bestselling author, a Google Technology Policy Fellow, and a Rausing, Williamson and Lipton Trust doctoral scholar at the University of Cambridge. His current research explores conceptions of intelligence in twentieth-century AI experimentation. Penn, who is British-Canadian, is also the co-founder of The Buried Life, a popular online community that asks, “What do you want to do before you die?” He holds degrees from McGill University and the University of Cambridge. In 2018, he will join the Science and Technology Studies Department at MIT as a Visiting Researcher. He has five siblings, forty cousins and two passports.
Kathy Pham is a computer scientist, product manager, and leader with a love for developing products, running operations, hacking bureaucracy, building teams, exploring data, healthcare, and weaving service and advocacy into all aspects of life. Currently, as a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard, Kathy explores the social impact responsibility of engineers, and the intersection of technology and government. Kathy was a founding product and engineering member of the of the United States Digital Service, a 2013 tech startup at the White House. She sits on the advisory boards of the Anita Borg Institute Local, and the “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” initiative. Kathy has held roles in product, engineering, and data science at Google, IBM, and Harris Healthcare. Previously, Kathy founded the Cancer Sidekick Foundation, placed first at Imagine Cup representing the United States with a sentiment analysis news engine, and invited as First Lady’s Guest to the 2015 State of the Union. She has also been spotted at the After Hours Gaming League finals for StarCraft II, and hosting Formula 1 Racing hangouts. Kathy holds a Bachelors and Masters of Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, and Supelec in Metz, France.
Aaron Plasek works at the intersection of the history of science, the history of ideas, US history, and computation. His work examines how machine learning and AI have been deployed in arguments to imagine communities and make claims about individuals within those communities. He is currently a Richard Hofstadter Fellow and doctoral student in the Department of History at Columbia University, and holds an MA in History from Columbia University, an Interdisciplinary MA from the Draper Program at NYU, an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and undergraduate degrees in physics, astronomy, and writing from Drake University.
Bogdana is a machine learning researcher, engineer, and a blockchain enthusiast. She has worked in various fields and has been particularly interested in designing tools that empower people to make better decisions. She is working on using AI to design and create new types of experiences together with the Think Tank Team at Samsung Research America. Previously, a co-founder of an industry focused startup to help people optimize equipment performance in various manufacturing fields. She has designed and lead educational workshops in the fields of electronics and data science at HacKIDemia and as a Networks and Computing Systems teaching fellow at Singularity University. She is a Connected Devices fellow at Amplified Partners and has also done projects in the fields of healthcare and environmental sustainability. She has a computer science training and is fascinated by feedback loops, language and AI Safety. Currently researching the field of fairness, accountability and transparency in machine learning and experimenting with using tools from social psychology to evaluate algorithms and their behaviors.
David Colby Reed is the co-founder and CEO of Foossa, a community-centered design and strategy practice based in New York City. He is also a lecturer in design, management, and social innovation at the Parsons School of Design at the New School. David’s work bridges the public, private, and social sectors to build inclusive public and consumer services around the world. Much of this work involves understanding the ways in which teams frame problems, and David has helped organizations ranging from the City of New York to global financial institutions to the United Nations reframe core challenges to mobilize an expanded set of stakeholders. David studied cognitive science at Harvard and public policy at New York University. He is an officer on his local NYC community board, a trustee of the NYC chapter of the Awesome Foundation, and a project mentor to current and former students.
Matt is a software engineer working for the Scratch Team, which is part of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. He works to help scale up the online community at Scratch through backend and front-end coding, and building tools for moderation and localization. When not coding for Scratch, Matt is a member of the organizing committee of the HONK! festival in Somerville, MA, and enjoys playing music in support of activists fighting for social justice.
Amy X. Zhang is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science at MIT CSAIL and a research assistant in the Haystack Group at MIT. She works on designing and building systems to improve discourse, collaboration, and understanding on the web, with applications to social media, news, education, and civic engagement. Her work has resulted in twelve peer-reviewed publications in international venues such as ACM CHI, CSCW, UIST, and AAAI ICWSM, and two patents. She has completed multiple research internships at Microsoft Research and Google. Prior to her Ph.D., she worked as a software engineer in NYC, completed an MPhil in computer science as a Gates Scholar at University of Cambridge, and received a BS degree in computer science from Rutgers University. Her research is supported by a Google Ph.D Fellowship and NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.