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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics
Jackson Polatnick

Jackson Polatnick

An intern's experience at Intel

What projects did you work on?

As a project assistant for 15 months at Intel, I worked on many different things, ranging from punching numbers into Excel to studying and presenting on the ethics of artificial intelligence and corporate social responsibility. I built many presentations and PowerPoints for members of our Ethics and Legal Compliance (ELC) team. I worked heavily in studying different anti-compliance and anti-trust cases, as well as prep for the quarterly newsletters sent out by ELC. Each day at Intel as an ELC project assistant was different. I honed my skills with MS Office, learned new software such as GoAnimate, and learned what is entailed in ethics and legal compliance at a very large company. 

How did the work connect back to your courses?

I took a course called "Ethics in the Digital Age" taught by Professor Shannon Vallor that sparked my interest and ultimately led me to this internship through the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. In the class, I studied the ethics of using social robotics in the care of elderly adults. The class sparked an interest in me concerning the ethics behind social robotics. I continued working with Professor Vallor and spoke at a school-sponsored event on a broader approach to ethics and AI. This work was noticed by my manager at Intel; he decided to assign me a project where I would build a presentation for the department on what I knew about artificial intelligence and how it could relate to ethics for Intel. I spent the majority of the summer working full time on this presentation. It was that course my sophomore year of college that ignited my interest and allowed me to continue working on the subject at Intel.

What did you learn about how a large organization manages ethics?

I was amazed by how seriously Intel took legal compliance and ethics. Much like a sales group, marketing group, or any other department, ethics at Intel is comprised of its team of extremely talented and bright individuals who work day in and day out to ensure the company is pursuing its business in the most ethical and responsible way possible while also complying with the many different legal requirements that exist for businesses today. 

What surprised you about the work experience?

I was surprised about how receptive, accommodating, and genuine the people at Intel I worked with were. You never know what to expect coming into a new company as an intern. I genuinely felt as if everyone there cared about my learning and wanted to see me succeed. They would take time out of their busy schedules to help me learn. This was special and surprising. 

Highlight from the internship?

The highlight has to be my summer project working with AI and corporate social responsibility. I was able to give my presentation twice and to the whole ELC department. It was well received and was the reason I took interest in business ethics in the first place. It is always the most fun working on something you are passionate about.

Biggest lesson learned?

Picking one, that's tough. The macro lesson I learned was seeing how a company with over 100,000 employees functions on a day-to-day level. There are many processes and everything takes time. Technological communication such as Skype and being able to see everyone's schedules to make meeting times are key. You really have to be a team player.  

What's next for you?

After graduation, I immediately skipped town and did some traveling throughout Europe. I had a lot of time to think, and while I don't fully have the answer to what's next, I know that I want to work with young companies down the line. Much of the innovation and new technologies emerging will have a host of challenges ethically and what better way to impact the world than to be on the ground level of helping the right companies with moral vision succeed.

Aug 21, 2018