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 related to the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence. Over four months, participants engage in a design-thinking session, a rigorous course, and a collaborative development period to explore hard problems with running code.

Assembly is currently in its third iteration. The program will begin accepting applications for the 2019 cohort in mid-July 2018.

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, our second cohort came together to tackle the challenges of artificial intelligence and its governance. Read the 2018 cohort's bios and check out 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 interdiscplinary learning, collaboration across sectors, and the conversion of ideas into tools and actionable policies.

Assembly is split into three parts - a class, a design period, and a development period - over four months. The program's structure allows participants to step back from day-to-day goals and to explore novel solutions to deep problems.

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 and check out their projects.

The third iteration of the program will run from March to June 2019. We are accepting applications starting in mid-July. More information about the upcoming 2019 program is below.

Photo by: Andy Ryan

Assembly 2019 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 third iteration of Assembly. The 2019 Assembly program, beginning in March and ending in June, will challenge Assemblers to confront emerging problems related to the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence. The program includes three components: a team building and design thinking process, a course on AI and ethics, and a twelve-week development period.

AI and complex algorithms developments are rapidly changing. Assembly is a program where passionate developers, policymakers, researchers, and managers can learn, collaborate, and innovate together.

Assembly 2019 Program Components

Team Building and Design Thinking

At the beginning 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.

The Course

Also during the beginning of the program, the cohort will participate in a short course at Harvard Law School, co-taught by Professor Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Center, and Professor Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab. The class will cover foundational technical, philosophical , and legal material on emerging problems in the artificial intelligence and governance space. In addition to Professors Zittrain and Ito, we will bring in a series of 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 develop project ideas chosen during the design 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 a guided design process and weekly group check-ins. However, participants and teams take the lead in setting and fulfilling their goals.


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