Alexa Hagerty, PhD | Anthropologist & AI Ethicist

We’re entering an era of ubiquitous AI, but do we truly understand the threats it presents to our basic freedoms? The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned that current uses of AI technologies are “incompatible” with human rights. In some cases, AI’s menace is clear: spyware planted on a journalist’s phone or Uyghur communities tracked by facial recognition. But sometimes the threat is more subtle and harder to document: “dirty data” in predictive policing or the chilling effect of mass surveillance on democratic protest. Technology has always held potential for abuse. But AI’s unprecedented power and pace of development raises new threats. An an anthropologist whose field work has included exhuming mass graves of citizens “disappeared” by their governments, Dr. Alexa Hagerty well knows how archives of data can be weaponized. Because AI poses such serious and complex risks, it is urgent that we implement concrete, actionable approaches to ensuring that AI systems uphold democratic values and human rights.
Alexa Hagerty, PhD

Alexa Hagerty is an anthropologist researching human rights and technology. She holds a PhD from Stanford University and is a research affiliate at the University of Cambridge. She was named as one of 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics and her research has been supported by institutions including the National Science Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and American Ethnological Society. Her work has been covered by The New York Times, BBC, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, and London Review of Books among others. In addition to academic publications, Alexa has written for Wired, Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Palais de Tokyo museum. She is the author of “Still Life with Bones: Genocide, forensics, and what remains,” a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.