Thao is a computational social scientist and development professional with research interests focused on governance and public policy, ICT4D, ethics of AI, digital justice, human trafficking and child protection. She is currently a PhD student at the ART-AI centre, University of Bath. Her research examines the accountable, responsible, and transparent usage of AI in anti-trafficking tools, supervised by Dr Emma Carmel, Dr Alinka Gearon, and Dr Julian Padget. She holds an MA in Governance and Development at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK.
She has ten years of experience in the international development and humanitarian response sector, working with grassroots organisations, INGOs, UN agencies, and research institutes. She serves in advisory, research and director roles in programs supported and funded by various agencies such as FCDO, IDS, UNICEF, UNHCR, and SIDA. She is also leading a development initiative in Vietnam - Share for VN Development – a platform for sharing knowledge and experiences for development practitioners and scholars in the Development studies field in Vietnam. She has worked on different development projects in the US, UK, India, Tunisia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Uganda.
With her interdisciplinary background in International Development and AI, she is interested in exploring the potential of data science and AI in researching and resolving social development issues as well as their ethical and responsible usage in global South context, especially concerning the marginalised and underserved population.
Thao’s research aims to evaluate the effectiveness and societal, ethical and social implications of existing AI-based anti-trafficking tools based on an analytical framework built on AI ethics and human rights standards. Using Vietnam as a case study, she is working towards assessing and enhancing the application of data analytics and AI techniques in anti-trafficking tools, considering the socio-economic, cultural, and linguistic characteristics of the global South context. The results will provide valuable insights into her recommendations for designing and implementing an accountable, responsible, transparent, victim-centred, and context-driven AI-based human trafficking response system.
Joining the interdisciplinary team at the Turing community, Thao is excited to learn more about the latest data analytics and AI techniques and regulatory frameworks on data governance and AI ethics standards in the anti-trafficking field. During her time at the institute, she aims to develop a prototype of a language model to detect child trafficking in Vietnam by analysing information from social media and online newspapers in Vietnamese languages. Having hands-on experience working directly with training data and algorithms, she hopes to gain insights into the sources of potential risks and harms associated with each technique. The empirical evidence could provide insightful inputs for designing and deploying participatory and context-driven AI tools in less-resourced contexts and contribute to the emerging literature on AI ethics in the global South context.