Rediet Abebe, cofounder of the Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG) initiative and a CS Ph.D. candidate at Cornell, is honored as one of MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 for her work using algorithms and AI to improve access to opportunity for historically underserved and marginalized communities as a Pioneer. Every year, the world-renowned media company recognizes a list of exceptionally talented technologists whose work has great potential to transform the world.
Abebe's research leverages computational and algorithmic techniques---along with insights from economics, sociology, and public policy---to understand, measure, and mitigate socioeconomic inequalities. Her work ranges from modeling economic disadvantage in order to improve allocation of key societal resources to analyzing large Web-based datasets to shed light on underserved populations' needs. In a recent publication, she uses search data to uncover unmet health information needs of individuals in Africa. This is the first work to use large Web-based data to study health across all 54 nations in the continent.
Her innovative contributions have not only spurred further research in computer science and other disciplines, but have also led to engagements with various government and non-governmental organizations. Throughout 2019 she is serving on the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on AI, where she is working alongside a group of AI and health experts to identify new ways for AI to help mitigate health disparities in the US and create frameworks for identifying and addressing ethical considerations when using AI for health.
This summer Abebe will join the Harvard Society of Fellows. As the sixth computer scientist and first female computer scientist to belong to the Society, she plans to draw on the fellowship's broad range of disciplines to further harness AI in support of societal welfare for disadvantaged communities. At the Society of Fellows, she will continue to build on the Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG) research agenda and co-organize the MD4SG initiative, which has membership from researchers from over 15 countries and over 40 institutions.
Gideon Lichfield, editor-in-chief of MIT Technology Review, said: “MIT Technology Review’s annual Innovators Under 35 list is a chance for us to honor the outstanding people behind the breakthrough technologies of the year that have the potential to disrupt our lives. These profiles offer a glimpse into what the face of technology looks like today as well as in the future.”