Role Model Student Projects from 2019 / 2020

Project Ideas for 2021


The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on the mental health and well-being of frontline healthcare workers.

How can we use AI to help healthcare workers manage stress to reduce burnout through the rest of the pandemic?
Read: ‘I Can’t Turn My Brain Off’:PTSD and Burnout Threaten Healthcare Workers

More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, a progressive disease that destroys memory and other mental function and currently has no cure. Alzheimer’s is devastating for both patients and their families.

How can we use AI to improve well-being of Alzheimer’s patients and their families?
Read: Stalked By the Fear That Dementia Is Stalking You

Democratic Societies

“Fake news” and misinformation spread easily on social networks and online forums, posing a serious threat to democracy and civil society.  Many have called for Internet platform companies to do more to combat fake news, and Facebook and Twitter have started identifying potential misinformation and alerting users to potentially false content. This approach, however, could be seen as infantalizing, limiting our autonomy to make our own decisions and interpretations of online content.

How can Internet platform companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google combat  fake news without reducing individual autonomy?
Read: Twitter’s manipulated media policy will remove harmful tweets & voter suppression, label others

Political polarization in the United States is higher than ever, with some analyses suggesting that polarization is the worst it has been since the Civil War. As a result, political disputes have threatened to divide families, strain marriages, ruin friendships, and poison the workplace. Political anger is so potent that 91% of voters said it was a “serious problem” in a recent poll. Unless it is stemmed, increased hostility among voters threatens to weaken our democracy and undermine the social fabric of our communities.

How can we use AI to reduce political polarization?
Read: In a Divided Era, One Thing Seems to Unite: Political Anger

Democracies around the world, from the European Union to the United States to Latin America, are facing challenges from far-right extremist groups. In the United States, these groups are turning increasingly towards committing violence in order to gain attention and power.

How can we use AI to reduce incidents of violence and terrorism from extremist groups, without infringing on individual rights and privacy?
Read: The Rise of the Extreme Right and the Crime of Terrorism: Ideology, Mobilization, and the Case of the Golden Dawn

Social Equity

Efforts to increase diversity in the workplace in the last three decades have not resulted in a worker population that looks like the general population. Among all U.S. companies with 100 or more employees, the proportion of black men in management increased just slightly—from 3% to 3.3%—from 1985 to 2014. White women saw bigger gains from 1985 to 2000—rising from 22% to 29% of managers—but their numbers haven’t budged since then. 

How can we use AI to improve workplace diversity and make the office more inclusive of underrepresented minorities?
Read: Why Diversity Programs Fail

A recent study found that an algorithm used widely in U.S. hospitals was less likely to refer black people than white people who were equally sick to programs that aim to improve care for patients with complex diagnoses.

How can we use AI to reduce racial bias in the U.S. healthcare system?
Read: New York Regulator Probes UnitedHealth Algorithm for Racial Bias

Around the world, religious intolerance jeopardizes social cohesion and individual freedoms, and the trendlines are troubling. Nearly three-quarters of the world’s human population live under strong government restrictions on religion, or among serious “social hostilities” surrounding faith. And hostility is spreading; the number of countries where religious groups were harassed has also increased in recent years. Religious intolerance has also led to attacks on faith communities, radicalization of youth, and social ostracization.

How can we promote religious tolerance and acceptance?
Read: Key Findings on the Global Rise in Religious Restrictions

Future of Work

Macroeconomic forces and technological advancement are shifting the labor demand across industries. For instance, demand for workers in service industries could increase by up to 45%, but these jobs require skills that do not necessarily translate from production sectors where technology is expected to eliminate jobs. These skill mismatches are expected to be even larger in developing countries and countries with large consumer markets. One of the great challenges of the coming decades will be to prepare the workers and companies for the workforce of the future.

How can we retrain and reskill the workforce of the future?
Read: The New Production Workforce – Responding to Shifting Labour Demands

The gig economy has grown exponentially in the last several years, and Covid-19 has accelerated this growth in the last year; in the United States, gig workers now represent 35% of the workforce. Without many of the protections of traditional employment, including employer-subsidized health insurance and tax-privileged retirement accounts, gig workers face more financial instability and stress than their employee counterparts.

How can we use AI to support gig workers’ well-being?
Read: The Mental Health Challenges of the Gig Economy