Me at work

Wells Lucas Santo


Short Bio - Medium Bio - Long Bio

  • Educator, researcher, and activist on societal implications of AI
  • Fighting for radical social justice and representation & equity for historically oppressed communities
  • Prev. AI4ALL, Cogitai, and NYU Tandon
  • Anime, boba, hip-hop, and poetry lover

Hello there! My name is Wells Lucas Santo (pronouns: he/him/his or she/her/hers), and I am an interdisciplinary researcher, educator, and activist on the social implications of technology and artificial intelligence (AI). I am currently the Education Manager at AI4ALL, where I support our nonprofit's mission of promoting diversity and inclusion in AI by working with university partners across North America to develop education programs that provide high school students from underrepresented communities early exposure to AI.

Some of my activism and work involves fighting for more representation and equity for historically oppressed communities in STEM, while showing that technology is never objective or apolitical and is embedded with the biases of those who make it. I have spoken on these issues at such venues as the SAFE Lab at Columbia University, the Annual oSTEM Conference, the General Engineering Seminar at NYU Tandon, the AI4K12 Symposium, and the United Nations Winter Youth Assembly.

Previously, I was an AI Platform Engineer at Cogitai, working on deep reinforcement learning systems. I was also a lecturer at NYU and Five Points Learning, a local teaching center in Brooklyn, where I worked on developing inclusive programs and classroom environments for K-12 and university students.

I received my Master's from New York University Tandon School of Engineering in Computer Science, with my thesis on Artificial General Intelligence, a Bachelor's in Computer Engineering, and a minor in Science and Society studies. I plan to pursue future graduate studies with an interdisciplinary focus, possibly in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) studies.

Beyond work, I am also particularly interested in cultivating QTPOC spaces in my local Oakland community, promoting and fostering LGBTQ individuals in STEM, supporting Asian-Americans in media and the humanities, and exploring the intersections of critical race and digital studies. You can also catch me working on music, writing poetry, thinking about civic tech and tech policy, or curating a list of top boba spots in every city I visit.

Hey there! My name is Wells Lucas Santo, and I am currently the Education Manager at AI4ALL. Prior to this, I was a full-stack engineer and designer working at Cogitai, an absolutely amazing artificial intelligence (AI) company led by some of the foremost researchers in the subfield of AI known as reinforcement learning. I am currently still affiliated with Cogitai as a representative for the Partnership on AI. In addition to this position, I am also an interdisciplinary researcher in history and philosophy of science (HPS), focusing primarily on the social and ethical implications of artificial intelligence. My interests align closely with those of the FATE Group at Microsoft Research and Data & Society, though I am not affiliated with either of the two.

I graduated from New York University's Tandon School of Engineering, with a MS in Computer Science (with a specialization in artificial intelligence), a BS in Computer Engineering (with a specialization in digital signal processing), and a minor in Science and Society (with a specialization in history and philosophy of science). I had the great pleasure of working under the advisement of Julian Togelius, Jonathan Viventi, and Jonathan Bain in each of these programs, respectively. I hope to soon return to academia to pursue my doctorate in either HPS or Science, Technology, and Society (STS).

Specificially, I care about how computer science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science (intelligent technologies) can impact government and affect existing social structures. Particular issues in this space that I am concerned about are predictive policing, transparency of algorithms and data-driven decision making, amplification of social biases by (machine learning) algorithms, accessibility and accountability of artificial intelligence tools, and safety and regulation of intelligent technologies. I also care about how we can use intelligent technologies to improve government, boost social equality, and better democratize resources, while being careful to understand the limitations of our technologies and mitigate any unintended consequences of the algorithms that we use. I am adamant in the belief that though computer science may be a powerful tool, it alone is not a panacea for the perennial issues in economics, politics, and society, and that expertise in other disciplines such as history, ethnography, sociology, political science, design, and philosophy must be central to how we understand, analyze, use, and deploy our technologies in order to promote social good and avoid unintended negative consequences.

I am also insistent and vocal about the need for inclusivity and diversity in the workplace and the classroom. As a queer, pansexual, Asian-American individual, the history, rights, and representation of LGBTQ and Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities are close to heart. I am deeply committed to promoting and fostering LGBTQ visibility and leadership in tech, and am a member of both oSTEM and NOGLSTP. I am also vigilant about the inclusivity of women in STEM and outspoken about the need for systemic and cultural changes to facilitate inclusivity that goes beyond statistics and the "pipeline". I believe that a crucial piece in changing the landscape of STEM is by making STEM education more accessible, inclusive, and diverse. Last but definitely not least, I am invested in understanding the AAPI experience and promoting AAPI interest in the arts and humanities.