Joichi “Joi” Ito is an activist, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist focusing on the ethics and governance of technology, tackling complex problems like climate change and redesigning the systems that support scholarship and science. As director of the MIT Media Lab and a professor of the practice in media arts and sciences, he supports researchers at the Lab in deploying design, science, and technology (such as AI, blockchain, and synthetic biology) to transform society in substantial and positive ways.
Soon after arriving at MIT in 2011, Ito introduced mindfulness meditation training to the Media Lab. Together with The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi, Ito teaches Principles of Awareness, a class devoted to explaining the contribution that awareness and focus can bring to the creative process.
Ito is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences's 2017 class and a visiting professor of law from practice at the Harvard Law School, where he and Professor Jonathan Zittrain teach The Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence.
Ito is chairman of the board of PureTech Health and previously served as board chair and chief executive of Creative Commons. He sits on the boards of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and The New York Times Company. In Japan, he was a founder of Digital Garage and helped establish and later became CEO of the country’s first commercial Internet service provider.
Ito was also an early investor in numerous companies, including Flickr, Last fm, littleBits, Optimus Ride, FormLabs, Kickstarter, and Twitter.
In 2011, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oxford Internet Institute. He received an honorary doctor of letters from The New School (New York City) in 2013 and an honorary doctor of humane letters from Tufts University two years later. In 2017, he received the IRI Medal.
He earned a PhD from Keio University Graduate School of Media and Governance in 2018 for his thesis, The Practice of Change, which is being turned into a book. He serves as a distinguished researcher at the Keio Research Institute at SFC's Internet and Society Laboratory.
Ito is co-author with Jeff Howe of Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future (Grand Central Publishing, December 2016), and he writes a monthly column for WIRED Magazine.