Meet the 2021 Summer Internship Cohort: Alice Chu

This summer, the institute welcomed 35 students from leading academic institutions across the United States and Europe, to participate in our Technology and Global Health program which combines research and practice. Students spent the first two weeks of the program immersed in coursework and case studies that offered an introduction to the practicality of research, while deepening their understanding in the areas of public policy, health, economics, program design and evaluation, and science communications. The remaining time in the program is spent on research topics aligned with that of the institute. Get to know some of our students here:




Name: Alice Chu

School: Columbia University and Sciences Po Dual BA Program

Major: Sociology

Hometown: Oakland, California


Tell us, how did you come to be here? What drew you to this program?


I was initially drawn to the program because I really wanted to explore the core operational, ethical, and social issues of technological systems in healthcare. Prior to joining the ITGH program, I had experience interning for different government agencies and volunteering at a refugee camp, where I saw the real-world consequences of health and technology policies. I’d always been curious about how technology is becoming ever more entwined with public health and healthcare, and the public health crisis of the past year and a half heightened this interest. I wanted to dive into the topics that are emerging at the intersection of these fields through research and scholarly analysis, and the ITGH internship program seemed like an unparalleled opportunity to do so. I was excited by the opportunity to approach difficult questions, think critically about issues’ root causes, and weigh the benefits and risks of potential solutions in a unique internship setting with the guidance of experts in the field.



What has stood out to you most since you started and has there been any surprises?


The aspect that has stood out to me the most has also been the aspect that surprised me! With the inherent characteristics of a virtual internship where we’re working on projects on our own time, I don’t think I was expecting to collaborate and participate in discussions with my fellow interns to the degree that we do. It’s been really insightful to listen to diverse perspectives and ideas, and I appreciate how the internship setup (like classes, case study analyses, professional discussions, and global workshops) really facilitates conversation, debate, and sharing of work. I’ve definitely learned a lot from the intern class as a whole and the leaders/supervisors of the intern cohort!



Can you share a bit about the project that you are working on in the program?


I’m on the Ethics team, and I’m writing a paper with my project partner Melissa on the distribution of moral responsibility at different levels of AI autonomy, with a focus on AI used in healthcare technologies. Actors like engineers, users, program implementers, and clinicians interact and contribute in complex ways when AI is involved, and many difficulties concerning accountability attribution are arising when something goes wrong. Our paper will be analyzing two different categories in particular: AI technologies that have a lower level of autonomy (greater degree of clinician oversight) and technologies that have a higher level of autonomy (lesser degree of clinician oversight), and we’re highlighting main considerations regarding distributed responsibility for the two categories through case studies.



What do you plan to do with your precious life?


I’m planning on applying to law school after I graduate! My experience this summer is definitely making me think deeply about law related to privacy, novel technologies, and health policy. In the future, I would love to pursue work that combines the topics I’ve explored this summer with my other interests, including disability rights and immigrants’ rights. Ultimately, I hope to bridge inequities and advocate for social change through the law.