Photo by University of Bath
Photo by University of Bath

Joanna Bryson

Associate Professor

University of Bath


Associate Professor


University of Bath




University of Bath: Department of Computer Science






What makes Joanna Bryson a Global Shaker?

Dr. Joanna Bryson, one of the world’s leading AI specialists, began her academic career by graduating with a bachelor’s in behavioral science from the University of Chicago in 1986. She then moved to the University of Edinburgh, where she completed master’s degrees in both artificial intelligence and psychology. In 2001, she completed her PhD in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a dissertation entitled, “Intelligence by Design: Principles of Modularity and Coordination for Engineering Complex Adaptive Agents.” In 2002, she went to Harvard University to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in primate cognitive neuroscience.

Dr. Bryson is now an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath and an affiliate at Princeton University in New Jersey, where she is based.

“What drew me into AI ethics was in fact my psychology background,” she explained to the University of Bath. “I was amazed that people were telling me it would be unethical to unplug a non-functional human-shaped robot that I was trying to program — when it was already not plugged in!  I thought that was a strange behavior. But then around 2007, since I came to Bath, I realized that AI was having so much impact in the world that this ‘bug’ in human thinking could have serious consequences, so I started putting more effort into research and publication.”

Although she wants to use AI to better understand natural intelligence, the associate professor has also spent decades studying the ethical and technical conundrum the discipline brings forward.

“The great ethical questions people are asking about AI are actually just great ethical questions about humanity and about our society,” Dr. Bryson explained in an interview with Antenna magazine. “For whatever reason, we were afraid to rock the boat when we were just thinking about ourselves, but when we put a machine there, we can ask these questions.”

At the CogX London 2017 conference, Dr. Bryson won the award for individual contribution to the advancement of AI Ethics.

Last updated: April 9, 2019