Center for Ethics in Society Staff and Faculty Spotlights: Ashlyn Jaeger

Welcome to our spotlight series, where we profile staff and faculty of the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society. Our goal is to highlight what is happening in the Center and who is making that possible.

Ashlyn Jaeger, Program Manager for the Ethics, Society, and Technology Hub, is the first EIS staff member to be spotlighted.

Ashlyn began her work as Program Manager for the Ethics, Society, and Technology Hub (EST) in April 2020 after earning her PhD in Sociology from UC Davis. She specialized in science and technology issues and knew by the end of her graduate career that she wanted to turn her “knowledge about the potential negative implications of technology and ways of leveraging technology for the public good into action, and Silicon Valley as a good place to do that.”

Her job has been to build what was, at the time, the new Ethics, Society and Technology Hub, which ties together initiatives from all over campus, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society (EIS). Ashlyn explained that “I brought my experience as a labor organizer to this job. I was thinking about how we could amplify and organize the work that was already happening on campus to create change at Stanford and in the industry more broadly — the PIT Lab, CS+Social Good, CSRE’s Technology & Racial Equity Initiative and more — much of it being done by students interested in and doing work related to PIT or ethics and technology.”

At the same time, when Ashlyn conducted focus groups, she discovered that one of the things students wanted more of was experiential learning opportunities where they could apply the ethics and technology lessons they were learning in the classroom off campus. The EST Hub developed the PIT fellowships in collaboration with Haas and PIT Lab. In its second year, in collaboration with Human-Center Artificial Intelligence (HAI), the fellowship has expanded and been renamed Tech Ethics & Policy Summer Fellowship (applications are now being accepted). And finally, the newly launched PIT website offers a comprehensive list of work opportunities in areas such as environmental sustainability, tech in government and artificial intelligence, Stanford courses offerings and student organizations.

“Overall, I think I now have a better sense of the ecosystem on campus and where some of the gaps are, so my role is more geared towards trying to fill them if there aren't already other centers on campus who are doing that work.” Ashlyn knows she doesn’t have all the answers to solving the inequities in the tech industry, but she believes the students really do, “especially the ones who have seen the harms that technology has caused in the Bay Area. I think that they have a lot of the answers for this work and that's great.”

Donna Hunter is a freelance writer, editor, and tutor living in San Francisco. She has a Ph.D. in English from UC Berkeley and was an Advanced Lecturer in Stanford’s Program in Writing and Rhetoric.