About

Our Purpose

As AI redefines power and possibility in the 21st century - and authoritarianism ascends worldwide - civil society must harness AI as one of its own tools to protect pluralism and democracy.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning represent an epochal change to human society - akin to the advent of the printing press, electricity and the internet.

Yet the people and movements dedicated to preserving open, democratic societies and making the future accessible and safe for all — have little grasp of how this tech works, and little to no access to those who do.

AI has great promise in strengthening democracy - enabling safer, freer elections, citizen discernment of truth and policy, exposing corruption, deepening civil and human rights, and more. But we aren't supporting these applications.

Pluro Labs is built to jumpstart this process, addressing critical threats to democracy, as we build lasting, AI-fluent capabilities across our field.

What we do

Pluro Labs harnesses AI to deepen and protect democracy, through three activities:

01
Incubate

We support technologists to develop and release AI-enabled tools that deepen democracy. These tools protect elections and democratic institutions, root out corruption, counter mis-information, elevate truth, foster civic engagement, combat political extremism, protect marginalized groups, and more.

02
Apply

We partner with civil society practitioners - in both US and abroad - to apply new AI-enabled tools and datasets to address critical challenges to open societies. These actors include human and civil rights advocates, journalists, litigators, organizers, and policy makers in social media, data, AI and democratic governance.

03
Share

We share what we learn - through briefings, reports, and datasets - to help civil society to safely apply AI to preserve democratic norms in the automation age. Our projects are also selected to create research, data, and evidence that helps advocacy and policy actors working on governance of AI, data, and social platforms.

Team

Will Byrne - Founder + Executive Director
Founder and Executive Director

Will is a social entrepreneur, applied technology executive, and democracy advocate. An alum of President Obama’s first presidential campaign, Will co-founded and was CEO at Groundswell, a social enterprise that makes clean energy accessible to disadvantaged communities in the US. He then led strategy and managed products at a Bay Area AI and emerging technology firm, co-founded a Black-led historical justice organization, and led tech and innovation teams at global humanitarian and human rights organizations.

Will is an affiliated scholar at University of California Berkeley's CITRIS Lab on Tech in the Public Interest. He's written on AI, emerging tech, and democracy for FastCompany and other publications. Will worked at Der Spiegel and the American Academy in Berlin, and his background in German history and United States politics informs his focus upon deepening democratic resilience worldwide. Will has been honored as an Ashoka Fellow, Stanford d.school Fellow, World Economic Forum Global Shaper, Forbes 30 under 30 Entrepreneur, and White House Champion of Change. He graduated from Vassar College and was raised by a public defender and family physician in Massachusetts.

Anabelle Basterrechea-Jones, JD - Program Manager (Alum)
Program Manager (Alum)

Anabelle Basterrechea-Jones has worked in public interest law firms and NGOs focused on human and civil rights in Asia (Hong Kong Dignity Institute, Migrasia) and Europe (Redress, Legal Action Worldwide). She served in a leadership role of a pioneering free legal clinic for migrant workers in Hong Kong. She has applied experience in impact litigation, comparative legal research, and international law, and at the intersection of technology law, product innovation, and organizational development.

She holds a BA from SOAS - University of London, a Juris Doctor (JD) from University of Hong Kong, and a Master of Laws (LLM) from University of California Berkeley in Law and Technology. She's a member of the California Bar Association. Anabelle is Cuban-American and is passionate about innovating at the intersection of law and technology to promote free and democratic societies.

Janine Graham, Research Lead
Research Lead

Janine Graham is a digital investigator with a passion for advancing democracy, human rights, and accountability. She has advanced public interest investigations for the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, Amnesty International, and UC Berkeley’s renowned Human Rights Center, where she led teams of investigators.

Janine brings experience gathering digital evidence to enable legal accountability and policy change, along with expertise in disinformation, online harms, and their monetization on digital platforms. Having grown up in East Asia and the UK, Janine spent her earlier career as a Hong Kong-based television reporter for CNBC and CNN, bringing international experience in the field.

Advisors

Alexa Koenig, PhD, JD
Co-Executive Director, UC Berkeley Human Rights Center; Founder, Digital Investigations Lab. Global leader in technology and human rights, architect of Berkeley Protocol on open-source investigation.
Dhruv Gulati
Co-Founder and CEO, Factmata. Mis-information technologist, product leader, expert in fraud, digital information and media ecosystems, and social networks.
Hany Farid, PhD
Professor and Dean Alumnus, UC Berkeley School of Information. Technologist, researcher, trailblazer in image analysis and computer vision technology.
Rumman Chowdury, PhD
Former Director; Machine Learning Ethics, Transparency, and Accountability; Twitter. Expert, pioneer, advocate in ethics in AI and machine learning.
Sue Hendrickson, JD
Executive Director, Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Expert in technology and media policy and law.