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Jonnie Penn

Research Fellow

College: St. Edmund's (Postdoc), Pembroke (PhD)
Research interests: History and philosophy of twentieth century mathematical sciences and technology, management science, computer science, artificial intelligence, bureaucracy, business history, statistics, gender and race. 


  • University of Cambridge, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Histories of Artificial Intelligence: A Genealogy of Power, Co-Organizer, Postdoc (2020-2021)
  • Harvard University, Affiliate, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society (2018-21)
  • University of Cambridge, St. Edmund's College, Research Fellow (2020-2022)
  • University of Cambridge, Leverhulme Center for the Future of Intelligence, Research Associate (2021-2024), Doctoral Fellow (2018-2020)
  • IEEE and MIT Media Lab, Council on Extended Intelligence, Member (2018-)
  • Royal Society for the Arts, Fellow (2018-)
  • University of Cambridge, Doctoral Researcher (expected 2019-20) 
  • MIT Media Lab, Assembly Fellow (2018)
  • Google, Technology Policy Fellow (2017-18)
  • MIT, Visiting Student (2018)
  • University of Cambridge, MPhil, first-class honours (2015)
  • McGill University, BA (2013)   


Supervisor: Prof. Richard Staley, Prof. Helen Anne Curry (advisor)
Thesis topic: History and philosophy of artificial intelligence


Monthly Events, Histories of Artificial Intelligence: A Genealogy of Power

Project Development Lead, "AI: History" at the Leverhulme Center for the Future of Intelligence. 

Towards a History of Artificial Intelligence, Columbia University, 24 May 2019, with Stephanie Dick (UPenn), Matthew L. Jones (Columbia) and Aaron Plasek (Columbia) .

Origin Myths of Artificial Intelligence: Histories of Technology and Power, University of Cambridge, 30 November 2018.

Co-Organizer, "AI for Social Good Joint-Workshop" at NIPS 2019, 14 December 2019, Vancouver.

Co-Chair, "AI for Social Good Workshop" at IMCL 2018, 15 June 2019, Long Beach.

Co-Chair, "AI for Social Good Workshop" at ICLR 2018, 6 May 2019, New Orleans.

Co-Chair, "AI For Social Good Workshop" at NIPS 2018, 7-8 December 2018, Montreal.

Presented Papers/Posters:

"WeClock: a self-tracking app to fight wage theft and foster worker wellbeing" at 4th Workshop on Mechanism Design for Social Good (poster), Harvard University, 17 August 2020.

"Animo Nullius: A History of Entitlement in AI Research" at 2nd Istanbul Privacy Symposium “Law, Ethics, and Technology,” Bilgi Information Technology Law Institute, 22 November 2019

Review of "Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing" by Mar Hicks, MIT Press History of Computing Series, H-Net, February 2019.

"On Artificial Intelligence and Management Science" at 2018 History of Science Society Annual Meeting, November 2018, Seattle, USA.

"The Logic Behind the Logic Theory Machine" at 2018 Society for the History of Technology, October 2018, St. Louis, USA.

"Organizational Sociology and Public Transparency: The Creation of a New Occupation Involving Autonomous Vehicles" at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Fellow's Hour, April 2018, Boston.

“On the Logic of Labor: EDSAC and the History of Open-Source Software (OSS)” at the British Society for History of Science (BSHS) 70th Annual Conference, July 2017, University of York.

"Inventing Intelligence: The Dawn of Artificial Intelligence and Electronic Personhood" at the 11th Annual Science in Public Conference, July 2017, University of Sheffield. Panel on: "Robots, AI and the Question of 'Electronic Persons'"

"EDSAC and the History of the Open-Source Software Movement" at the 11th Annual Science in Public Conference, July 2017, University of Sheffield.

"How To Talk About the Ethics of AI? A Historical Perspective" at the 14th Annual Technology Ventures Conference, June 2017, University of Cambridge.

Select Public/Policy Talks *to be updated

"Artificial Intelligence and Youth: Hopes and Concerns" at Artificial Intelligence and its Impact on Young People, Council of Europe, 5 December 2019

"The Politics of Complex Information Processing Systems: Corporate Logic and the Foundations of Symbolic AI" at The Future of AI: Language, Society, Technology, CRASSH and Giving Voice to Digital Democracies, University of Cambridge, 30 September 2019

"Leveraging ‘Nutrition Labels’ and Other Tools for More Responsible AIat CPDP 2019, Data Protection and Artificial Intelligence, 30 January 2019

"Realising the Transformative Potential of AI: Role of Governance" at World Summit on AI, October 2018, Amsterdam. Panel with Prof. Joanna Bryson (University of Bath), Kay Firth-Butterfield (Project Head of AI, World Economic Forum) and Rumman Chowdhury (Responsible AI Lead, Accenture). Mod: Chelsey Colbert.

"Insights from the History of AI" at BBC's AI Society & the Media: How can we Flourish in the Age of AI?, September 2018, London.

"On Youth in the Fourth Industrial Revolution" at United Nations 2018 AI for Good Global Summit, May 2018, Geneva.

"AI Narratives: How do we talk about AI?" at the Royal Society, May 2018, London.

White Papers / Contributor:

"Artificial Intelligence and its Impact on Young People," Council of Europe, 5 September 2020

"Data Cooperatives: Digital Empowerment of Citizens and Workers," MIT Connection Science Lab, 2019, Pentland et al.

MIT Media Lab & Harvard's Berkman Klein Centre 2018 BKMLA Assembly Research Team on AI and Governance.

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles in Society: An Agenda for Social and Policy Research, MSU Sociomobility White Paper, Contributor

”Cooperative, Connected and Automated Mobility: Obstacles to Uptake in Europe and Possible Way Forward" at European Commission, 28 June 2018, Brussels. 

"The Pineapple Report: Youth in Europe Face the Fourth Industrial Revolution," Google and The European Youth Forum, 2019. 


MPhil and Part III students, 2020-

Paper 4: Science, Politics, Publics, for Mary Augusta Brazelton and Joseph D. Martin (2017)

Paper 6: Society and Technology, for Helen Anne Curry (2016-17)

Select Press:

Are you being compensated for your time? FairWork features WeClock, March 2021.

Gig Workers Gather Their Own Data to Check the Algorithm’s Math, Wired Magazine features WeClock, 24 March 2021.

Internet Health Report 2020 - Unlock Data Power, Mozilla, February 2021

You Really Don’t Want to Sell Your Data, Slate, 20 April 2020.

Should Algorithms Rule the World?, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development podcast, April 2019.

Intelligent Connectivity and the Need for a New Data Deal, The Innovator, February 2019.

The Dilemma of Ethical TechnologyInnovadores, February 2019.

AI Thinks like a Corporation—and that’s Worrying, The Economist. November 2018.

AI Skills Report Launch - Learning to Learn: The Future Proof Skill, APPG-AI. October 2018.

Raising Children in the Era of Artificial Intelligence – Part One and Two, PwC, January 2018.

Written Evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, APPG-AI. October, 2017.

Building a brain trust for good AI?, IBM Think Leaders, August 2017.