SparkNC and North Carolina School of Science & Mathematics present:

2022 Ethics & Leadership Conference: Should We Hack Humanity?

Updates: In-person registration is now closed.

Educators: Please vist download our Educators Guide: Pre-conference Materials for classroom standards alignment, a full conference agenda, and activities to prepare students for the conference.


Ideas that were the stuff of science fiction a generation ago are shaping reality today. Engineers can use artificial intelligence to reduce car accidents, make surgeries safer, and prevent acts of violence. Robots can transform work. Scientists can edit human genes to avoid diseases and disorders, extend lifespans, and enhance athletic ability and IQ.

But just because we can harness the potential of technology in these ways, does that mean we should? If we do, what will be the consequences–good and bad–for fairness? For privacy? For democracy? Humans have the power to shape the future of technology in ways that are responsible, ethical, and humane. But we could also do the opposite.

If you are a high school student (grades 9-12) interested in exploring these ideas, join us for The 2022 Ethics and Leadership Conference: Should We Hack Humanity? Students will have the option to attend as an in-person field trip or a virtual conference. The in-person event will be held on Monday, October 31, 2022 on the Durham Campus of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. The day will be hosted by Noelle Silver Russell, founder of the AI Leadership Institute. The cost for students is free. Registration opens September 1, 2022.

Why join us for this event?

  • Network with other students and tech industry professionals

  • Participate in problem solving sessions and discussion about ethical tech

  • Hear from experts about ethical dilemmas in their fields

  • Learn about exciting career paths in tech

Noelle Silver Russell is a multi-award-winning technologist and entrepreneur who specializes in advising companies on emerging technology, cloud, AI and Web 3.0. She has led teams at NPR, Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon Alexa, and is a consistent champion for public understanding of the ethical use of AI and tech based on her work building some of the largest AI Models in the world. She is the founder of AI Leadership Institute and serves as an executive at IBM. She was recently awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award for Artificial Intelligence as well as VentureBeat’s Women in AI Responsibility and Ethics award. For more information visit

Noelle Silver Russell - MC & Featured Speaker

Renée Cummings - Featured Speaker

Renée Cummings is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) ethicist and the first Data Activist in Residence, at the School of Data Science, at the University of Virginia. She is also a criminologist, criminal psychologist, therapeutic jurisprudence specialist and a Community Scholar at Columbia University.

Celebrated as one of the world’s leading women in AI, Renée specializes in AI leadership, AI policy development, AI governance, public service AI, AI risk management, AI crisis communication, building ethical AI and using AI to save lives. Renée is committed to using AI to empower and transform, helping governments and organizations navigate the AI landscape and develop future AI leaders.

Renée is the co-director of the Public Interest Technology (PIT) University Network, at the University of Virginia, and on the Board of Advisors of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. She’s a founding board member of the Springer journal AI Ethics. She is also on the board of Women in Voice as well as on the board of Inspired Minds, producers of the World Summit AI.

Renée lectures extensively on AI and Data Ethics and contributed significantly to the creation of the first Ethical Emerging Technologist certification. Celebrate by Coursera, the online education platform of over 92 million users, as one the leading experts and educators in AI, she lectures on, solving business problems with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, how to follow a Machine Learning workflow, promoting the ethical use of data driven technologies, detecting, and mitigating ethical risks and communicating effectively about ethical risks in data-driven technologies.

Committed to justice, equality, empowerment, and democracy, Renée is a champion for the voices of the historically underrepresented in STEM and technological advancement and increases the visibility and lifts the voices of vulnerable communities in AI and new and emerging technologies, forcing us to reimagine data science and stretch the ethical imagination of AI. Through her activism and research, Renée is creating space for people without power to participate meaningfully in the process of designing, developing, and deploying AI.

Through rigorous thinking, meaningful participation, and scholarship, Renée advocates for AI we can trust, fair, accountable, transparent, explainable, responsible, and principled as well as more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Renée 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, Renée has mastered the art of creative storytelling, science communication and deconstructing complex topics into critical everyday conversations that inform and inspire.

Charlotte Dungan - Featured Speaker

Charlotte Dungan, Chief Operating Officer at The AI Education Project, manages aiEDU’s Implementation and Operations teams, focusing in particular on organizational strategy, vision, metrics, finance, compliance, partnerships, and engagement with educators. Charlotte was a computer programmer for 10 years and earned her BA from Antioch University with concentrations in English and History. Charlotte has an Ed.M. in Learning and Teaching from Harvard University. She was the AI Program Architect at including AI PD for educators, standards aligned K-12 curricula with integrated AI, in-person training opportunities, and a space for a supportive online peer community. She is a member of #IAmCS, the AI4K12 working group, and was Vice President of CSTA NC through early 2022. You may have seen her as the face of AI in the CS is Elementary videos! Her vision is to change the fundamental understanding of Artificial Intelligence in society.