Renée Cummings

Data Science Professor and Data Activist in Residence, University of Virginia

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 (UVA), 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 Non-Resident Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution and the inaugural Senior Fellow, AI, Data and Public Policy, at All Tech Is Human (ATIH), 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 (CAIDP), Washington, DC. 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; using data to enhance police accountability and transparency and 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, increasing the visibility, and amplifying the voices of vulnerable communities in AI and new and emerging technologies, forcing us to stretch the ethical imagination of AI.

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.





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