Notre Dame-IBM Tech Ethics Lab Announces Visiting Fellows

Author: Tech Ethics Lab

The Notre Dame-IBM Tech Ethics Lab has named Casey Fiesler and Marianna Bergamaschi Ganapini visiting fellows, with their appointments effective July 1 and September 1, respectively. Running for a term of 12 months, the lab's visiting fellowships are intended to help fund the tech ethics work of outstanding scholars on leave from their academic institutions.

Casey Fiesler
Casey Fiesler

Fiesler is an associate professor in the Department of Information Science (and Computer Science, by courtesy) at the University of Colorado Boulder. The director of the Internet Rules Lab, she is particularly interested in big data research ethics, ethics education, ethical speculation in technology design, technology empowerment for marginalized communities, and broadening participation in computing. Much of Fiesler’s work is supported by the National Science Foundation, Mozilla, and Omidyar, and she gave one of the keynote addresses at last fall’s global university summit on the Rome Call for AI Ethics hosted by the lab.

She is also a public scholar, with her research frequently covered in the media, and her project at the lab, titled “AI Ethics for All,” seeks to make engaging and accessible AI and tech ethics content available for everyone. This will include producing videos for TikTok—where she has more than 100,000 followers and has already created a TikTok-based tech ethics class—and YouTube as well as visiting schools and interacting with the computer science community to encourage more attention to public scholarship and basic algorithmic literacy education.

“Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to teach and engage with many more people than I typically reach in the classroom and have seen how much general interest there is in learning about issues of technology ethics and justice,” said Fiesler, who holds a Ph.D. in human-centered computing from Georgia Tech and a JD from Vanderbilt University. “Though it’s important this content is taught in classrooms as well, it can also be fun, engaging, and occasionally show up in between dance videos on someone’s TikTok feed or recommended after a video game stream on YouTube. I’m so pleased to have the opportunity during my sabbatical to be able to spend more time engaging in public communication around technology ethics.”

Marianna Bergamaschi Ganapini
Marianna Bergamaschi Ganapini

An assistant professor of philosophy at Union College, Ganapini spent this spring as a visiting scholar at the New York University Center for Bioethics. Primarily focused on philosophy of mind, epistemology (i.e., how human knowledge works), and technology ethics, she has related interests in the epistemology and ethics of AI. She is part of the “Thinking Fast and Slow in AI” project, which is led by IBM Research in collaboration with several academic partners and seeks to leverage cognitive theories of human decision-making to advance artificial intelligence.

Ganapini’s project, “New Tools for Ethical Risk Analysis and Risk Mitigation in the Use of AI,” is the second that she’s pursued through the lab. She previously developed an “Audit Framework for Adopting AI-Nudging on Children” with support from the 2021–22 Call for Proposals (CFP).

“I am extremely excited to join the lab for a year, as it is a stimulating environment with a cutting-edge vision about the role of ethical thinking in the development of new technologies,” said Ganapini, who received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. “My goal is to work on the role of risk mitigation in preventing harm: How can organizations determine which risks their artificial intelligence poses to people and society? And how can they find actionable ways to address and prevent those risks? I will tackle these questions by producing a practical, step-by-step tool that will guide companies through risk assessment and mitigation connected to their use of AI. I will use a methodology that draws from philosophy and ethical theory and the work already being done in AI ethics auditing.”

The Notre Dame-IBM Tech Ethics Lab is the applied arm of the Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center. Established in 2020 as a partnership between the University of Notre Dame and IBM, the lab is funded by a 10-year, $20 million IBM commitment.