Roundtable: AI for Good

Rediet Abebe, Black in AI, Sam Gregory, Witness, and Mark Latonero, Data & Society

MIT Technology Review's Karen Hao hosts a roundtable discussion with Rediet Abebe, Mark Latonero and Sam Gregory. The discussion explores what technology companies, advocacy organizations, and policymakers can start doing to ensure that considering the human impact of AI is a driving force of the industry going forward.

Rediet Abebe, Computer Science Researcher, Cornell University; Cofounder, Black in AI

Rediet Abebe is a computer scientist with a strong interest in the promotion of equality and justice. Her research focuses on algorithms, AI, and their applications to social good. As part of this research mission, she co-founded and co-organizes Mechanism Design for Social Good, a research initiative that aims to use techniques from algorithms and AI to improve access to opportunity for historically under-served and marginalized communities, as well as Black in AI, an international network of individuals focused on increasing the presence and inclusion of Black researchers and practitioners in the field of artificial intelligence.

She is a PhD candidate in computer Science at Cornell University, where she also earned an MS. She holds an MS and a BA in mathematics from Harvard University and an MA in mathematics from the University of Cambridge. Her research is deeply influenced by her upbringing in her hometown of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she lived until moving to the US in 2009.

Sam Gregory, Program Director, Witness

Sam Gregory is Program Director of WITNESS ( which supports anyone, anywhere to use video and technology to fight for human rights. An award-winning technologist and advocate, Sam leads work around emerging opportunities and threats, including artificial intelligence, proactive approaches to malicious "deepfakes," innovation in eyewitness video, and challenges to trust and evidence. He also supervises WITNESS’ Tech Advocacy work, which advocates to technology companies on how products protect human rights and develops tools such as ProofMode for better authentication of contentious video. He has spoken at Davos and the White House and was a 2012-17 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum (WEF). He is Co-Chair of the Partnership on AI’s Working Group on Social and Societal Good, a member of the Technology Advisory Board of the International Criminal Court, and a member of the WEF Global Future Council on Human Rights. From 2010-2018 he taught the first graduate level course at Harvard on harnessing the power of new visual and participatory technologies for human rights change.

Mark Latonero, Research Lead, Data & Society

Mark Latonero leads the Human Rights program at Data & Society, an independent research institute in New York. He is on the Advisory Board of WEF’s Civil Society Initiative and is a fellow at Berkeley Law, Harvard Kennedy School, and USC Annenberg School. He has been an innovation consultant for the UN Human Rights Office and was a research professor at USC where he led the Technology and Human Trafficking Initiative. His research examines the benefits, risks, and harms of digital technologies particularly for vulnerable populations. His recent report, Governing Artificial Intelligence: Upholding Human Rights & Dignity, shows how fundamental rights can guide AI design, development, and deployment. He has led field research in a dozen countries investigating the role of technology in humanitarian contexts such as forced migration and refugees. Mark completed his PhD at the University of Southern California and was a postdoctoral scholar at the London School of Economics.


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