Mr. Ito stepped down on Saturday September 7 2019 as the director of the Media Lab at M.I.T., less than a day after an article in The New Yorker described the measures taken to conceal the lab’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
Almost immediately, the M.I.T. official, Joichi Ito, left the boards of three other organizations: the MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and The New York Times Company, where he had been a board member since 2012. He also left a visiting professorship at Harvard.
SAs director of the MIT Media Lab and a Professor of the Practice in Media Arts and Sciences, he supports researchers at the Media Lab to deploy design, science, and technology such as AI, blockchain, and synthetic biology to transform society in substantial and positive ways.
Ito is a member of the 2017 class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 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 serves 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 also was 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 degrees from The New School in New York City in 2013 and two years later, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Tufts University. In 2017, he received the IRI Medal. In 2019, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
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 edited into a book to be published by MIT Press. 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.