We are honored to spotlight our Advisor, Jesse Dunietz. Jesse is an artificial intelligence researcher and science communicator based in Connecticut. He holds a bachelor’s and a Ph.D. from MIT and Carnegie Mellon University, respectively, both in computer science. In addition to his technical work, he has trained hundreds of researchers in science communication and written many articles and video scripts for outlets such as Scientific American, Popular Mechanics, and SciShow. He now divides his week between research and development at Elemental Cognition—a small AI firm—and providing communication training to engineers at MIT’s Communication Lab. He is currently exploring ways to bring his background to bear on the climate crisis.
What do you do at ICAAD?
I help ICAAD think through issues related to AI. That includes advising on how AI and machine learning can augment ICAAD’s own work; keeping the organization abreast of relevant developments in AI; and consulting on how AI and human rights issues might affect each other.
What motivates your advocacy efforts?
There’s just so much to be done! I feel fortunate to occupy a stable, comfortable, safe position in the world, but I’m acutely aware that many people can’t (yet!) say the same.
While I obviously have no magic wand to wave, I see it as my responsibility to find corners where I can help—ways my voice and skills can nudge the world a little closer to being a thriving, equitable, and satisfying place for everyone.
Who or what inspires you?
At the risk of sounding a bit grim, I’m inspired by people who can look at a system that seems immutable and pursue a coherent strategy to change it, even as they know that they’re likely to fail. That could be anything from bail reform advocacy to drumming up so much demand for kelp that kelp farming becomes a scalable climate change solution. Any sufficiently hard problem needs lots of courageous people chipping away at it from many angles. Even when efforts like these don’t succeed, they do a huge amount of good along the way—and sometimes they surprise everyone!
What is an important lesson that you’d like to share with other human rights advocates?
I think it’s critical to keep in mind that no cause or advocate is perfect. You don’t have to support everything someone stands for to go shoulder-to-shoulder with them in pursuit of shared goals.