Aspen Institute Launches Council for a Fair Data Future

May 31, 2023

More than two dozen experts, advocates, and practitioners committed to an equitable data economy will serve as inaugural members.

Contact: Victoria Comella
High10 Media

Washington, D.C, May 31, 2023 — In collaboration with Omidyar Network, the Aspen Institute is bringing together a diverse team of experts, advocates, and practitioners to imagine an equitable data economy that works for everyone. A project of the Aspen Digital program, the Council for a Fair Data Future will debate, deliberate, and collaborate on what is needed to create changes to systems and markets, and propose ways to infuse fairness and equitable benefits across institutions, technologies, policies, and social and economic frameworks.

“There are many issues to weigh, and a need to consider the tradeoffs and benefits,” said Ryan Merkley, Managing Director of Aspen Digital. “Our challenge is to imagine a new data economy that serves both individuals and communities. This means rethinking what data means and the value it holds, who makes decisions, and who benefits.”

Through the Council for a Fair Data Future, Aspen Digital is creating a community of academics, technologists, corporations, policymakers, and civil society actors who will identify and elevate a set of recommendations and then make substantial progress toward bringing them to life. A full list of the members can be found at the bottom of this release. 

“We are thrilled to partner with the Aspen Digital program to launch the Council for a Fair Data Future that will create a community of diverse expertise and perspectives across academia, civil society, and industry,” said Sushant Kumar, director of responsible technology at Omidyar Network. “This council will challenge upstream assumptions about data, its value and vulnerabilities. We believe the Council for a Fair Data Future will spur actionable recommendations for a new data paradigm, one that is co-created to be more equitable and less extractive.”

Consisting of more than two dozen experts, the Council will (1) prioritize the numerous issues and tradeoffs of data equity to achieve more direct interventions; (2) establish a structure to develop, share, debate, and coordinate actions that change the face of the data economy; and (3) develop recommendations to then advance collectively and individually. 

“Everything we do generates data, and with the mainstream adoption of generative artificial intelligence, nearly all content we produce and share online is being used to train machine learning models. But right now, it’s only the companies that benefit from the data we produce,” said Merkley. “The Council for a Fair Data Future will aim to create a framework where the data a person generates benefits the individual user and the collective community, as well.”

The work of the Council will culminate in recommendations for collective action, to be distributed to changemakers in this space.

This effort is made possible through the generous support of Omidyar Network, a venture working to bring about structural changes that will fundamentally shift the systems that govern our daily lives.




Aspen Digital is a nonpartisan technology and information-focused organization that brings together thinkers and doers to uncover new ideas and spark policies, processes, and procedures that empower communities and strengthen democracy. This future-focused Aspen Institute program inspires collaboration among diverse voices from industry, government, and civil society to ensure our interconnected world is accessible, safe, and inclusive – both online and off. Across its initiatives, Aspen Digital develops methods for elevating promising solutions and turning thought into networked impact. To learn more, visit or email


The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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