Invited Panelists

photo of Rediet Abebe
Rediet Abebe is a PhD candidate in the Department of Computer Science at Cornell University, where she is advised by Professor Jon Kleinberg. Her research focuses on algorithms, AI, and applications to social good. She is a co-founder and co-organizer of Black in AI, a group for sharing ideas, fostering collaborations and discussing initiatives to increase the presence of Black people in the field of artificial intelligence. She is also a co-founder and co-organizer of Mechanism Design for Social Good, an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional research group working on applications of algorithms and AI to social good. Her work has been supported by fellowships and scholarships through Facebook and Google. She is also a 2013-2014 Harvard-Cambridge Fellow. Prior to Cornell, she completed an M.S. in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University, an M.A. in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge, and a B.A. in Mathematics from Harvard University. She was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
photo of Dr. Sofian Audry
Sofian Audry creates computational artistic works through different forms such as robotics, electronics interventions, interactive installations, and internet art. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Sciences and Mathematics (2001), a M. Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Montreal (machine learning and language modeling, 2003), an M.A. in Communications from UQAM (interactive media, 2010), and a Ph. D. in Humanities from Concordia University (2016). Sofian is Assistant Professor of New Media in the School of Computing and Information Science at University of Maine. Before he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is actively involved in his community as part of artist-run center Perte de Signal which he led as president of the board in 2009-2017, and as lead developer of open source video mapping software MapMap. His work has been presented in Canada, Europe, Asia and Africa in many festivals and exhibitions.
photo of James Barrat

Time Magazine named author, speaker, and filmmaker James Barrat one of 5 Very Smart People Who Think Artificial Intelligence Could Bring the Apocalypse due to his groundbreaking nonfiction book, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era. Intelligence, Barrat contends, not strength or speed, is the unique quality that enables humans to steer the future. Scientists around the world are developing machines whose intelligence grows exponentially, and will someday dwarf our own. Have we already plunged into an unwinnable intelligence race, with the future of humanity at stake?

As an award-winning documentary filmmaker, Barrat has made a career from introducing audiences to complex ideas in engaging and provocative ways. His films have set ratings records for National Geographic, Discovery, PBS, other broadcasters in the US and Europe. As a speaker, Barrat shines a light on AI’s soaring potential in science, medicine, ‘smart’ cities, and more. But he also explores the technology’s dark side, one you’ll never hear about from Google, Apple, Facebook, or Amazon. Why have Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Stephen Hawking raised the alarm about the dangers of artificial intelligence? It began with Our Final Invention — named a 2013 Huffington Post Definitive Tech Book — and Barrat’s quest to engage the world in the most important conversation of our time.

photo of Dr. Chris Dede

Chris Dede is the Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (HGSE). His fields of scholarship include emerging technologies, policy, and leadership. From 2001-2004, he was Chair of the HGSE department of Teaching and Learning. In 2007, he was honored by Harvard University as an outstanding teacher, and in 2011 he was named a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association. From 2014-2015, he was a Visiting Expert at NSF, Directorate of Education and Human Resources.

Chris has served as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Foundations of Educational and Psychological Assessment, a member of the U.S. Department of Education’s Expert Panel on Technology, and a member of the 2010 National Educational Technology Plan Technical Working Group. In 2013, he co-convened a NSF workshop on new technology-based models of postsecondary learning; and in 2015 he led two NSF workshops on data-intensive research in the sciences, engineering, and education. His edited books include: Scaling Up Success: Lessons Learned from Technology-based Educational Improvement, Digital Teaching Platforms: Customizing Classroom Learning for Each Student, and Teacher Learning in the Digital Age: Online Professional Development in STEM Education, and Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Realities in Education.

photo of Stephen Downes

Stephen Downes works with the Digital Technologies Research Centre at the National Research Council of Canada specializing in new instructional media and personal learning technology. He is one of the originators of the first Massive Open Online Course, has published frequently about online and networked learning, has authored learning management and content syndication software, and is the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily. Through a thirty year career Downes has contributed pioneering work in the fields of online learning games, learning objects and metadata, podcasting, open educational resources. Today he is developing gRSShopper, a personal learning environment, offering a course on new e-learning technologies, and supporting research and development in the use of distributed ledger technology in learning applications. He is a popular keynote speaker and has spoken in three dozen countries on six continents.

photo of Stephen Downes

Nevena Francetic is a Senior Data Scientist at Shopify. Her main focus is on industrial applications of machine learning. Recently, she has been working on building the predictive models which power Shopify products such as Shopify Capital and Order Fraud Analysis. Nevena has a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Toronto. Before Shopify, she was a post-doctoral fellow and research scientist at the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, DND – Cora in Ottawa, and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

photo of Dr. Timnit Gebru

Timnit Gebru just finished her postdoc at Microsoft Research, New York City in the FATE (Fairness Transparency Accountability and Ethics in AI) group, where she studied algorithmic bias and the ethical implications underlying any data mining project.

She received her PhD from the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, studying computer vision under Fei-Fei Li. Her thesis pertains to data mining large scale publicly available images to gain sociological insight, and working on computer vision problems that arise as a result. The Economist and others have recently covered part of this work. Some of the computer vision areas she is interested in include fine-grained image recognition, scalable annotation of images, and domain adaptation. Prior to joining Fei-Fei’s lab she worked at Apple designing circuits and signal processing algorithms for various Apple products including the first iPad. She also spent an obligatory year as an entrepreneur (as all Stanford undergrads seem to do). Her research was supported by the NSF foundation GRFP fellowship and the Stanford DARE fellowship

photo of Abhishek Gupta

Abhishek Gupta is the founder of the Montreal AI Ethics Institute and an AI Ethics Researcher based out of McGill University and District 3, Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

His research focuses on practical ways to address ethical concerns in deploying AI solutions in different industries. One of the areas of research with District 3 is examining the labor impacts of AI-enabled automation in the financial services industry in Canada and making recommendations on retraining the existing workforce, altering curricula to better equip the upcoming workforce amongst others. At McGill University, he is building a curriculum via a 4-part workshop series to introduce the topic of the ethical development of AI to students, faculty, staff and alumni of the McGill community with plans to extend this to other universities within the Quebec and Canadian ecosystem.

In collaboration with other researchers, he is also examining the technical and process improvements required to ensure reproducibility in results from AI research and deployment which will be crucial in our ability to audit AI systems. He actively works with scholars from domains that will be impacted by integrating AI into their work.

He recently led the Canadian Delegation at the AI for Good Global Summit at the United Nations, Geneva where he shared his vision for the ethical development of AI while highlighting the work done by Canadian organizations and companies. He has also been published by the United Nations, World Economic Forum among others and spends quite a bit of time traveling to share his research and advising governments and policy makers on how to think about AI in their contexts.

He is also the founder of the AI Ethics community in Montreal that has over 710 members coming from diverse backgrounds including AI, law, sociology, bioethics, neuroscience, policy-making, business, etc. that meet once every two weeks to discuss different aspects of the ethical development of AI and offer public consultations to initiatives across the world.

photo of Dr. Ian Kerr

Dr. Ian Kerr holds a unique four-way appointment in the Faculty of Law, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Philosophy, and School of Information Studies. He is a pioneer in the burgeoning field of AI and Robotics Law and Policy and a global leader in the field of privacy. His ongoing privacy work focuses on the interplay between emerging public and private sector surveillance technologies, civil liberties and human rights.

His recent work, including his book, Robot Law, studies the delegation of human tasks and decision making to machines with the aim of developing frameworks for the governance of robotics and artificial intelligence.

photo of Dr. Ian Kerr

Dr. Matthew McKean is Associate Director of Education at the Conference Board of Canada. He directs the research program and leads stakeholder relations for the Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education, a multi-year initiative that examines the advanced skills and education challenges facing Canada today. Matthew also leads the Conference Board’s long-standing and distinguished executive network of university provosts and vice-presidents from across Canada.

Prior to joining the Conference Board, Matthew worked in policy, communications, and stakeholder relations at the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. He holds a PhD in History from Queen’s University, Kingston, and is an Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of History at Carleton University, where he teaches modern British history.

Matthew’s writing has appeared in The Globe & Mail, The Conversation (Canada), The National Post, The Toronto Star, The Ottawa Citizen, The Hill Times,, Popmatters, and This Magazine.

photo of Alastair Summerlee

Alastair Summerlee. An innovative leader with significant managerial experience in the post-secondary system including a strong record in fund-raising; an active teacher and researcher with substantial past and current research programs; a passionate humanitarian and community leader; and a tireless advocate for education, education for the future and for the role of the postsecondary system as the social and moral conscience of society.