UCL Health of the Public


AI for Good - Tech and Ethics in Humanitarian Crises

Join hosts Doctor Xand van Tulleken and Dr Rochelle Burgess for Season 4, Episode 2 of Public Health Disrupted with Prof Maria Kett and Sarah Spencer.


"Is technology the magic bullet for humanitarian aid, or does it come with its own set of ethical dilemmas?"

In this episode, hosts Dr Xand van Tulleken and Dr Rochelle Burgess delve into the complex world of humanitarian crises and the transformative role of technology in emergency responses.

With the expertise of Professor Maria Kett, an anthropologist with a rich background in disability-inclusive humanitarian aid, and Sarah Spencer, an AI technical consultant navigating the challenging intersection of AI, national security, and public policy, this episode explores the intricate relationship between technology and humanitarian action.

From AI’s potential for predicting and containing epidemics, to the potential pitfalls of humanitarian surveillance, our guests discuss how technology is reshaping the humanitarian landscape. They challenge us to consider the ethical implications of data security, consent, and the agency of vulnerable populations whose lives are increasingly datafied.


Maria Kett - Professor of Humanitarianism and Social Inclusion 
An anthropologist by training, Maria has extensive expertise in disability-inclusive humanitarian responses. Maria has undertaken research in countries across Africa and Asia, leading on a number of research programmes on disability and international development and is author of over 140 publications. Maria also leads on the humanitarian-focused work for the Global Disability Innovation Hub. She regularly serves as a consultant for numerous bilateral and multilateral donors, including the UK FCDO, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations. Maria is the Programme Director for the new UCL MSc Humanitarian Policy and Practice.

Sarah Spencer - Technical Advisor, UK Humanitarian Innovation Hub (UKHIH)
Sarah Spencer is a multi-domain expert working at the intersection of technology, global security, and public policy. She advises governments and civil society on how to navigate the challenges and opportunities offered by advanced technologies and is a regular commentator on the politics of technology, AI, and technology for good. She is passionate about unlocking the power of technology to support justice movements and assist the most vulnerable. For more than 20 years, Sarah has supported communities affected by war, disasters, and instability. 

Public Health Disrupted with Rochelle Burgess and Xand Van Tulleken is produced by Buckers at Decibelle Creative, find her on Instagram: @decibelle_creative and here: https://www.decibellecreative.com 


This podcast is edited by Buckers at Decibelle Creative / @decibelle_creative