Harvard students explore ethics in tech

Techtopia program students and advisors

Techtopia students and advisors at the end-of-year celebration. Photo by Victoria Borneman

2 min read

Seventeen students representing nine schools across Harvard convened with one common goal: to combine their diverse expertise to tackle the biggest issues in tech today. 

The students, from both undergraduate and graduate programs, composed the first cohort of the Assembly Student Fellowship, which formally launched in fall of 2018 under the inaugural title “Techtopia.”

The Assembly Student Fellowship is one of three tracks within the Assembly program based at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. The Student Fellowship facilitates interdisciplinary dialogue between Harvard faculty and students, and is further supported by a community of almost 50 faculty, staff, and fellows from around the University, including from the HBS Digital Initiative, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy

The Assembly Student Fellowship “is breaking silos and building a community that Harvard had not seen before,” wrote Irene Solaiman, a Master in Public Policy candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School and a member of the cohort. “It not only brings together thought leaders who are dedicated to approaching issues rising from digital technologies, but also promotes multidisciplinary solutions.”

In Spring 2019, students worked on hands-on projects advised by faculty from across the University, ranging from an art installation exploring how emotion-detection AI and affective computing might change our relationship with society and technology, a browser plug-in to make privacy and data literacy more accessible to communities online, and a policy playbook to help local governments procure automated decision-making technologies responsibly. 

Learn more and apply to the Assembly Student Fellowship

This year’s Assembly Student Fellowship is focused on exploring disinformation in the digital public sphere from a cybersecurity perspective. It is part of the broader Assembly: Disinformation program, which includes three tracks: the Assembly Student Fellowship, Assembly Fellowship for professionals, and Assembly Forum for expert discussion. 

The Student Fellowship is open to Harvard undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines and schools. Student Fellows will regularly convene for problem-solving seminars and collaborate on student-led projects that tackle real-world disinformation problems. More information about this year’s Assembly Student Fellowship and the application can be found on the program’s website.