Michael Best Selected as Executive Director of the Institute for People and Technology
May 22, 2023 —
The Georgia Institute of Technology has selected Michael L. Best as the new executive director of the Institute for People and Technology (IPaT) effective August 1, 2023. Best is a professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and the School of Interactive Computing where he directs the Technologies and International Development Lab. He was director of research for the Georgia Tech – Shenzhen campus and founding director of the United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS) in the Macau special administrative region in the People’s Republic of China. He has also served as a fellow and faculty associate of the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.
He holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree from MIT and has served as director of Media Lab Asia in India and head of the eDevelopment group at the MIT Media Lab. He received his computer science and engineering bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Both Chaouki Abdallah, executive vice president for research, and I see a bright future for IPaT with professor Michael Best coming onboard as executive director of IPaT,” said Julia Kubanek, vice president for interdisciplinary research at Georgia Tech. “Mike is our first Interdisciplinary Research Institute executive director with a primary faculty appointment in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. He brings his deep experience integrating technology and social sciences to this new role. With the rapid deployment of AI in daily life, IPaT – now combined with the GVU Center – plays a critical role in addressing not only how people interface with new technologies, but also how people should control and direct technology to meet the needs of diverse communities.”
“I’m especially appreciative of the search committee members and of professor Pinar Keskinocak for chairing the search. Together they brought forward an excellent slate of candidates. The IPaT community came out in force to meet with our four finalists and provided valuable feedback. In serving as interim executive director since January 2022, Leigh McCook has provided strong leadership and supported the merged IPaT and GVU community. Leigh will serve in this role until August 1, after which she will return to her earlier roles in IPaT and GTRI.”
Best serves as associate editor for global computing with Communications of the ACM and co-founder and editor-in-chief emeritus of the journal Information Technologies and International Development. Best has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers in books, journals, and conferences since joining Georgia Tech in 2003. He has delivered more than 100 invited and keynote lectures across the USA and internationally.
While research faculty at MIT, he served as a research fellow in the Center for International Development at Harvard University, conducting policy, strategy, and technical research in information and communication technologies for social and economic development.
In 2015, Best took a leave of absence from Georgia Tech to become founding director of the UNU Institute on Computing and Society. UNU-CS was the “people and technology” research arm of the United Nations, and Best was responsible for strategic development, government relations, research visioning, budget, and administrative supervision. As director, he recruited, hired, and supervised over 40 staff and researchers and managed an annual budget of $4 million.
“I am thrilled to take on this leadership role with IPaT,” said Best. “The intersection of people and technology – where science and engineering connect with societies and communities – defines today’s greatest challenges and opportunities. AI technologies or mRNA vaccines are as much about people, society, and policy as they are about neural networks or vaccine systems. IPaT’s ongoing purpose is to strengthen Georgia Tech’s leading research at this intersection.”
The Institute for People and Technology (IPaT) brings together researchers across Georgia Tech to support world-class research, engage students, and collaborate with industry, government, and nonprofit partners. IPaT’s goal is to maximize Georgia Tech’s societal impact through people-centered innovation. IPaT was created in 2011 to embrace opportunities and needs to create a networked research ecosystem of Georgia Tech faculty and industry partners, and to amplify their combined thought leadership and on-the-ground results to create a positive economic and societal impact in critical areas that define much of everyday life.
Michael Best will be the second executive director of IPaT, succeeding the founding director Elizabeth Mynatt.