Tech and Human Values

Driven by a leadership collaboration between Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard’s Tech and Human Values Initiative will transform how technologists, scientists, public servants, enterprise leaders, and professionals learn to see and respond to ethical and governance dilemmas provoked by technology; and the Initiative will accelerate the discovery of solutions to high priority dilemmas from disinformation to algorithmic bias to gene-editing and policy based on polygenic science.  

We will achieve this by innovating in the two central elements of Harvard’s mission: teaching and research. 

  • Teaching: Harvard is already leading the way in the innovative teaching of technology through a slate of program including Embedded EthiCS @ Harvard, a new approach to integrating ethics education into the computer science curriculum that aims to launch new generations of computer scientists able to identify and address the human dilemmas that accompany their work. The program is being adopted by other universities and has received a national prize for responsible computer science education. Harvard’s Tech and Human Values initiative will support Embedded EthiCS while also expanding this innovative teaching model to other parts of the University profoundly impacted by technology: the life sciences, medicine, business, government, and more. 

  • Research: We will deploy Harvard’s research and convening capabilities in new ways to accelerate solutions to high priority dilemmas, through pop-up institutes that bring academics and practitioners together into structured collaboration for problem-solving on pre-established timetables with clear upfront commitment to high-value deliverables. The first problems to be targeted include algorithmic fairness; fake news, social media and democracy; and the implications of genetic research from gene-editing to polygenic science. We will disseminate and deploy the products of this work through a range of outward-facing programs including a technology “clearinghouse” aimed at providing in-depth tech policy guidance to attorneys general; an AI Policy Clinic designed to serve as an interface with governmental and private sector entities making hard decisions around AI, generating along the way applied case studies aimed at bringing the conversation around AI principles down to earth; and Safra Process convenings organized to spark and rigorously develop important conversations around scientific citizenship, policy-making, organizational redesign, and professional ethics.  

At Harvard, the world’s leading liberal arts college and research university operates alongside the world’s top professional schools across the domains of law, policy, business, and medicine, all in a city burgeoning with cutting-edge companies in both computer and biomedical technology. The mission of Harvard’s Tech and Human Values Initiative is to leverage the University’s tremendous intellectual resources to build capacity and collaborations that empower humankind to shape technology rather than be shaped by it.