Nicole Rigillo and Jason Stanley: Research Fellow and Design Research Lead at Element AI: challenging the distinction of social and non-social science and what it takes to develop as a relevant professional – The Human Show Podcast 71
Nicole Rigillo is a Research Fellow at the Berggruen Institute placed at Element AI. There she engages AI scientists in dialogue on how artificial intelligence is changing what it means to be human. Her current research centers around explainable AI and spaces of epistemic negotiation between humans and intelligent machines, AI ethics, and human-AI interaction. Her postdoctoral research at the University of Edinburgh examined how civic and environmental activists use WhatsApp to improve municipal governance in Bangalore, India, raising questions concerning the effects of encrypted dark social networks on democracy and the public sphere. Her PhD research at McGill University focused on how mandatory corporate social responsibility in India is altering an earlier model of welfare universalism by redistributing social responsibilities among groups of non-state actors.
Jason Stanley is Design Research Lead at Element AI, where he helps the company’s product teams identify opportunities for innovation and learn from iterative attempts to address them. He has previously worked as a product researcher and data scientist for several software companies, as an advisor on labor market policy for the Government of Canada, and as a researcher investigating the use and impacts of technology around the world, including in Asia, South America, Europe, and North America. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from New York University and graduate degrees from Oxford University.
Today we talk to Nicole and Jason about their rather different professional paths which led them both to Element AI – a global artificial intelligence solutions provider. What sparked our interest in the interview is that Element AI has become the space in which social scientists thrive and we wanted to find out why. We were curious to know how Nicole and Jason engage in the same work bringing diverse individual expertise and academic perspectives. Jason explains how in the field of his work, building a good team isn’t about comparing or contrasting social to non-social science but about finding the synthesis of qualities required by a particular case. He gives examples from his personal journey of how to achieve those skills which are not included in university programs. Nicole, on the other hand, brings her anthropological lens into the scientific context and generates discussions about how the work that is being undertaken has deep and irreversible consequences for the way social scientists think. Lastly, they share their advice to young graduates considering to follow a similar path.
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