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Bard College Junior Lily Zacharias Wins First Prize in Prestigious Carnegie Council International Student/Teacher Essay Contest

Mark Primoff
Bard College student Lily Zacharias '19 has won the prestigious Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs' 2017 International Student/Teacher Essay Contest on the World's Greatest Ethical Challenge.
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— Bard College student Lily Zacharias ’19, who is majoring in Political Studies with a concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies, has won the prestigious Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs’ 2017 International Student/Teacher Essay Contest on the World’s Greatest Ethical Challenge. Zacharias received first prize in the undergraduate category for her essay “Artificial Intelligence’s Ethical Challenges.” This year’s essay topic was: In your opinion, what is the greatest ethical challenge facing the world today? Zacharias’s essay argues that we should be concerned about the myriad of new, complex and challenging ethical issues being posed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies across the world, in part because those challenges have yet to be fully realized. In her essay, she draws a comparison between the development AI and ML technology to the development of nuclear technology, asserting that the world will likely only confront the ethical implications of AI and ML technology after it has been weaponized and militarized.

“I’m so honored to win the Carnegie Council International Essay Contest,” says Zacharias. “When writing the paper, I wanted to look at how the world can preemptively respond to major international ethical challenges and rethink the infrastructure and institutions around those challenges before they reach their height. We don’t need to wait until we’re already dealing with the worst consequences of a challenge like artificial intelligence and machine learning to act.”

Zacharias is a native of Deerfield, Illinois. She is currently a research assistant for Bard Assistant Professor of Political Studies Michelle Murray and has previously worked as a research assistant and development associate at the World Policy Institute. “In my work with her, Lily has demonstrated a particular ability to incisively dissect complex problems, offer sophisticated and creative insights about them, and in doing so illuminate new ways of thinking about international relations. Her first prize finish in the Carnegie essay contest reflects her talent and promise as a student of international affairs. I can’t wait to see what she does next,” said Murray.

The five winning student essays address sexual exploitation, geoengineering, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and the universal right to education. There were no winners in the graduate/teacher category this year. The ninth annual International Essay Contest was open to teachers and students anywhere in the world. The council received entries from 31 countries including Algeria, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, China, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe.

To read Zacharias’s winning essay, go to:

About the Carnegie Council
The mission of Carnegie Council is to enlarge the audience for the simple but powerful message that ethics matter, regardless of place, origin, or belief. Since our founding by Andrew Carnegie a century ago, we have been one of the world’s top creators of nonpartisan educational resources on international ethics used by professionals, journalists, educators, students, and the greater public. Carnegie Council is a non-profit 501(c) (3) institution.

About Bard College
Founded in 1860, Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, is an independent, residential, coeducational college offering a four-year B.A. program in the liberal arts and sciences and a five-year B.A./B.S. degree in economics and finance. The Bard College Conservatory of Music offers a five-year program in which students pursue a dual degree—a B.Music and a B.A. in a field other than music. Bard offers M.Music degrees in conjunction with the Conservatory and The Orchestra Now, and at Longy School of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bard and its affiliated institutions also grant the following degrees: A.A. at Bard High School Early College, a public school with campuses in New York City, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Newark, New Jersey; A.A. and B.A. at Bard College at Simon’s Rock: The Early College, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and through the Bard Prison Initiative at six correctional institutions in New York State; M.A. in curatorial studies, M.S. in economic theory and policy, and M.S. in environmental policy and in climate science and policy at the Annandale campus; M.F.A. and M.A.T. at multiple campuses; M.B.A. in sustainability in New York City; and M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in the decorative arts, design history, and material culture at the Bard Graduate Center in Manhattan. Internationally, Bard confers dual B.A. and M.A. degrees at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St. Petersburg State University, Russia (Smolny College); dual B.A. and M.A.T. degrees at Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem; and dual B.A. degrees at American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan and Bard College Berlin: A Liberal Arts University.

Bard offers nearly 50 academic programs in four divisions. Total enrollment for Bard College and its affiliates is approximately 5,500 students. The undergraduate College has an enrollment of more than 1,900 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. In 2016, Bard acquired the Montgomery Place estate, bringing the size of the campus to nearly 1,000 acres. For more information about Bard College, visit

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This event was last updated on 03-06-2018