Professor Renée Cummings, a 2023 VentureBeat AI Innovator Award winner, is an artificial intelligence (AI), data, and tech ethicist, and the first Data Activist-in-Residence at the University of Virginia’s School of Data Science, where she was named Professor of Practice in Data Science. She also serves as co-director of the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) at UVA. She is also a nonresident senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and the inaugural Senior Fellow, AI, Data and Public Policy at All Tech Is Human, a leading think tank. She’s also a distinguished member of the World Economic Forum’s Data Equity Council and the World Economic Forum’s AI Governance Alliance, an advisory council member for the AI & Equality Initiative at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and a member of the Global Academic Network at the Center for AI and Digital Policy. Professor Cummings is also a criminologist, criminal psychologist, therapeutic jurisprudence specialist, and a community scholar at Columbia University.
Committed to stretching the imagination of data science, reimagining the relationship between data and society, and redefining the data power structure, she works at the intersection of technology, power, and society. She examines the ethical implications of data on society, exploring the impact of AI on duty of care and due process, expanding our understanding of the ethical risks of AI and how to build ethically resilient, rewarding, responsible, sustainable, justice-oriented, and trauma-informed AI for the benefit of all. At the School of Data Science, her research focuses on data justice, data trauma, algorithmic policing, surveillance technology, and AI for criminal justice reform by using data to enhance police accountability and transparency and to improve police practices, fairness, and decision-making accuracy through community engagement and public interest technology. Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are critical aspects of her work as she promotes inclusive innovation and ethical, responsible, and trustworthy AI.
Her work extends to include data, democracy, representation, identity, and governance, critically examining data rights, algorithmic justice, social justice, and design justice through a criminal justice lens. She specializes in AI leadership, AI policy development, AI governance, public sector AI, AI risk management, AI crisis communication, building ethical AI, and using AI to save lives. She is committed to using AI to empower and transform, helping governments and organizations navigate the AI landscape and develop future AI leaders. Justice, equality, empowerment, and democracy are critical to her work as a champion for the voices of the historically underrepresented in STEM.
Through her activism and research, she is creating space for people without traditional power to participate meaningfully in the process of designing, developing, deploying, and adopting AI. Through rigorous thinking, meaningful participation, and scholarship, Professor Cummings advocates for AI we can trust. She is on the frontline of ethical AI, generating real time justice-oriented solutions to the consequences of AI and the impacts of data and technology on society. A thought leader, motivational speaker, and mentor, she has given a multitude of talks to conferences, groups, and policymakers, and is a recognized expert who lectures, nationally and internationally, on ethical data science and ethical AI. She has mastered the art of creative storytelling, science communication, and deconstructing complex topics into critical everyday conversations that inform and inspire.
Community Scholar, Artificial Intelligence and Criminal Justice, Columbia University
M.S., Rehabilitation Science and Substance Abuse Counseling, John Jay College
M.A., Criminal Justice, John Jay College
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