Nitin Sawhney leads the CRAI-CIS (CRitical AI and Crisis Interrogatives) research group in the Department of Computer Science at Aalto University. Working at the intersection of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), responsible AI, and participatory design research, he examines the critical role of technology, civic agency, and social justice in society and crisis contexts. Prof. Sawhney has previously conducted research in speech/audio interaction, wearable computing, distributed open source collaboration, civic/participatory media at the MIT Media Lab and The New School.
At Aalto University, he is the principal investigator for a 3-year Research Council of Finland project on Reconstructing Crisis Narratives for Trustworthy Communication and Cooperative Agency, jointly conducted with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). It aims to analyze crisis narratives using mixed-methods, combining qualitative research with computational data analytics of crisis discourses in news, health communications, and social media. In December 2021, he received an award from the Kone Foundation for a 4-year research project Civic Agency in AI? Democratizing Algorithmic Services in the City (CAAI), which was subsequently awarded an additional 4-years of funding from the Research Council of Finland in June 2023. In September 2022, he was awarded a Strategic Research Council grant for the project Designing Inclusive & Trustworthy Digital Public Services for Migrants in Finland (Trust-M).
Prof. Sawhney is a member of the research program on AI and Society at the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI). At Aalto University he helped establish the research areas on Digital Ethics, Society and Policy (Digital ESP) and Human-Computer Interaction and Design (HCID). His work has been published in journals including IEEE Multimedia, ACM Transactions on Computer-Human interaction, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, Planning Practice & Research, AI & Society: Knowledge, Culture and Communication, and Digital Creativity. He is an associate editor for the International Journal of Child Computer Interaction.
He has previously been involved in several tech startups in clinical data platforms and real-time news and social media analysis in Cambridge and New York, and co-directed two feature-length documentary films in Gaza and Guatemala.