Plenary Speakers

Prof Mariët Westermann, Vice-Chancellor, New York University Abu Dhabi

Mariët Westermann is vice chancellor and chief executive of New York University Abu Dhabi. She previously served as executive vice president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where she oversaw grantmaking and research. Westermann was also the first provost of NYU Abu Dhabi and director and professor of NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, associate director of research at the Clark Art Institute, and a faculty member at Rutgers University. As a historian of Netherlandish art she has authored numerous scholarly and museum publications, including the widely read A Worldly Art: The Dutch Republic 1585- 1718, and curated the exhibition Art and Home: Dutch Interiors in the Age of Rembrandt (Denver Art Museum and Newark Museum). Her current research investigates the garden of Eden in the Judaic, Christian, and Islamic traditions. She earned a BA at Williams College and a PhD at the Institute of Fine Arts. Westermann serves on the boards of ALIPH (The International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas), the Educational Testing Service, and the Rijksmuseum, and chairs the Scholar Rescue Fund.

Prof Emma Ruttkamp-Bloem, University of Pretoria

Emma Ruttkamp-Bloem is professor and head of the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria. She is the leader of the Philosophy and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence Research Group at the Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR) in South Africa. In her capacity as an AI ethics policy researcher, Prof Ruttkamp-Bloem is a member of the AUDA-NEPAD Consultative Roundtable on Ethics in Africa and a current member of the UNESCO World Commission for Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST). She was the chairperson of the Bureau of the UNESCO Ad Hoc Expert Group (AHEG) on the ethics of artificial intelligence tasked to prepare a Recommendation for a global instrument on the ethics of AI by September 2020. She is a member of the advisory board of the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Programme (Human Sciences) hosted by Umeå University in Sweden, of the advisory board of the Global AI Ethics Institute, and of the advisory board of the International Group of Artificial Intelligence (IGOAI) as country advisor for South Africa. In her philosophy of science research capacity, Prof Ruttkamp-Bloem is a corresponding member of the International Academy for the Philosophy of Science. She has been the elected South African representative at the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IUHPST) since 2014. She is a member of the editorial board of Springer’s respected Synthese Library Book Series and the editorial board of Acta Baltica: Historiae et Philosophiae Scientiarum. She is a member of the bidding committee for the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa and co-chair of the Steering Committee for the Southern African Conference for AI Research. She is the founder of the CAIR/UP ‘Artificial Intelligence for Society’ Symposium Series and the ‘South African Philosophy of Science and Logic’ Colloquium Series. She has a PhD in Philosophy in the domains of mathematical logic and the philosophy of science. Her thesis focused on formulating a realist analysis of the structure of scientific theories with the help of mathematical model theory. Currently, her research focuses on the ethics of artificial intelligence and issues in the intersection between the scientific realism debate and the debate on the structure of scientific theories in the philosophy of science. In the ethics of artificial intelligence, she works on themes in the philosophy of technology relating to human-technology relations, and themes in machine ethics, the ethics of social robotics, and data ethics. In the context of policy making, her research focuses on generating culturally sensitive policies for trustworthy AI technologies while aiming for global regulation. In the philosophy of science, her work is centred on debates in scientific realism, the structure of scientific theories, and the status of machine learning-based methodologies in the discovery/justification debate in the philosophy of science. Her research in both the ethics of artificial intelligence and the philosophy of science includes application of non-classical logics to selected problems in these sub-disciplines of philosophy.

Krista Greear, Blackboard

An enthusiastic, data-driven individual, Krista is passionate about inclusivity. With over 13 years of experience, Krista’s focus is to accelerate digital content, with expertise in document and video accessibility. She is excited about improving the experience for all users, students, and clients by working with stakeholders to make changes at an organizational level. Krista has directly supported 200+ institutions in strategizing around improved inclusion through the implementation of Blackboard Ally. Since 2018, Krista has served as the Vice President of ATHEN, a professional association and network accessibility and technology. Leveraging her Master of Education in Educational Technology from Boise State University (2018), Krista is interested in the intersection of accessibility, and instructional design.

Alesta Nortjé, Junior Lecturer in the Department of Information Technology at the Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein

I am part of an incredibly dedicated team teaching Basic and Advanced Digital Literacy to most first-year students at the Central University of Technology (CUT) in the heart of the Free State. I, too, embarked on my tertiary education journey at CUT as a first-year and enjoyed the Basic and Advanced Digital Literacy course more than I was willing to admit to my peers at the time. Over the last six years of teaching this module, it became glaringly evident that I am passionate about Digital Literacy; I can truthfully say I enjoy the field in which I teach. I have had the privilege to present several short courses on the topic too. My Masters' working title is another dead giveaway of my adoration of Digital Literacy: Factors influencing the Continuance Intention of a (Digital Literacy) Online Learning Environment for the Central University of Technology. My mission is to encourage all our first-years to abandon their fear of computers, in turn empowering them in their diverse fields of study to use computers to improve the efficiency and accuracy with which they complete tasks and ultimately enhance their employability in a time where the Fourth Industrial Revolution has dramatically changed how we work. When I am not fighting the good fight for the love of computers amongst CUT students with my colleagues, I spend my time with my adorable cat, my ever-growing collection of house plants and hobbies, and all my loved ones.

Joe Pringle, AWS

Joe Pringle is a Technical Business Development Manager at AWS supporting public sector customers in their adoption and use of AI and machine learning. Joe’s passion is helping customers unlock new insights and value from data, and put those insights into the hands of people to make better decisions. He brings 20+ years of experience working with influential public sector organizations at all levels of government, the non-profit sector, and academia. Joe received a BS in Chemistry and Natural Sciences and Mathematics from Washington and Lee University and a MS in Environmental Science and Engineering from University of North Carolina.