Transatlantic Approaches on Digital Governance: A New Social Contract in Artificial Intelligence

Transatlantic Approaches on Digital Governance:   A New Social Contract in Artificial Intelligence



The World Leadership Alliance‐Club de Madrid (WLA‐CdM) in partnership with the Boston Global Forum (BGF) is organizing a Transatlantic and multi‐ stakeholder dialogue on global challenges and policy solutions in the context of the need to create a new social contract on digital technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI).


Over the years, Transatlantic relations have been characterized by close cooperation and continuous work for common interests and values. This cooperation has been essential to enhance the multilateralism system, considering the shared principles from both sides on democracy, rule of law, and fairness.


By comparing American and European approaches in the creation of a new social contract on AI and digital governance, under the critical eye of former democratic Heads of State or Government, this policy dialogue will stimulate new thinking and bring out ideas from representatives of governments, academic institutions and think tanks, tech companies, and civil society, from both regions.


At the same time, the discussion will generate a space to encourage and strengthen Transatlantic cooperation on the new social contract of digital governance in the framework of needed reforms of the multilateral system. Special attention will be focused to engage technological companies as key stakeholders of digital governance, while protecting democratic mandate for public policy‐makers.



•       To help leaders from both sides of the Atlantic to engage technological companies as key stakeholders of digital governance while protecting the democratic mandate of public policy‐makers.

•       To generate action‐oriented analysis and policy recommendations to strengthen the role of the multilateral system in shaping a common digital governance, following the call for action of WLA – CdM’s 2019 Policy Dialogue on ‘Digital Transformation and the Future of Democracy’, and the Boston Global Forum’s (BGF) work on the AIWS Social Contract 2020 and AIWS Innovation Network.



The policy discussion will:

•       Offer a multi‐stakeholder platform to stimulate innovative thinking in the new social contract on digital governance in the framework of Transatlantic cooperation.

1.     Rationale

Digital technologies are rapidly transforming society. Critical infrastructures of all kinds, from telecommunications to medical devices and financial services, increasingly rely on digital and artificial intelligence systems developed and operated by a small number of large technological companies. The technical complexity of digital technologies, coupled with the concentration of digital markets in the hands of a relatively small number of corporate giants, gives these an unprecedented leverage over public policy‐making processes aimed at governing the digital environment, both nationally and internationally.

While the benefits of inclusive consultations in public policy‐making have long been acknowledged and promoted by democracy advocates the world over, the UN Secretary‐ General’s High‐level Panel on Digital Cooperation, in its June 2019 report, recommends to push inclusion one step further by adopting a multistakeholder approach to digital policy making. International digital cooperation, it asserts, cannot be led exclusively by governments through multilateral efforts; it also requires cooperation structures that involve other stakeholders such as technological companies, civil society, academics and technology specialists to address the social, ethical, legal and economic impact of digital technologies in order to maximize their benefits and minimize their harm.

The rapid deployment and decentralization of new technologies and artificial intelligence beyond the control of States, as well as the digital interdependence in this globalized world, presents itself as a current global challenge. It involves a division of responsibility that leads to a sweeping set of interrelated challenges for governments and the multilateral system and requires the articulation of collective responses at all levels.

The practice of multistakeholderism is not new. Multistakeholder initiatives have been burgeoning for over two decades, particularly in areas related to standard setting. In the digital sphere, examples of long‐standing multi‐stakeholder initiatives include the Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF), which has been setting technical standards related to internet protocols since 1986, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which has been managing the global domain name system since 1998. More recently, various national and international public bodies have also permanent multistakeholder structures to advise them on digital policy, such as the UN Secretary‐General’s Multistakeholder Advisory Group tagged to the Internet Governance Forum.

Multistakeholderism, however, poses fundamental questions related to the core principles of democracy. By devolving to private actors important functions within the public policy‐making process, multistakeholderism casts a shadow of doubt over the ability to deliver policy that meets the best public interest. While democratic governments are formed through representative systems and held in check by public accountability mechanisms, most participants in multistakeholder initiatives are motivated by private interests and free from any obligation of accountability to the broader community. The composition of multistakeholder initiatives – generally limited to a small sub‐set of all the physical and legal persons who may have stakes in an issue – also gravely limits their ability to represent the whole spectrum of views that may exist among the public, resulting in less inclusivity than may have been achieved through alternative approaches to inclusive policy‐making.

Yet, for digital governance, the unavoidability of engaging technological companies in policy‐ making remains. Their economic power, technical know‐how and ability to innovate not only gives them leverage over public authorities, but also puts them in a privileged position to develop solutions that use more digital technology to address the policy challenges posed by digital technology. Democratic governments and multilateral organizations based on member Member States’ decisions and policy‐making, therefore, are confronted with the challenge of redesigning public policy‐making processes for digital governance in such a way as to constructively engage technologies companies while protecting the democratic mandate of public policy‐makers.

The WLA – CdM’s 2019 ‘Call to Action’ to promote a democratic approach to Digital Transformation and the Future of Democracy, developed during WLA – CdM’s 2019 Annual Policy Dialogue and supported by its Members, invites world leaders to take proactive action to frame the development of digital technologies in an inclusive, fair and rights‐based legal, political and social framework.

What role is there for technological companies in democratic policy‐making? Is multistakeholderism, despite its democratic limitations, the lesser of all evils in digital governance? Or are alternative approaches to inclusive policy‐making more likely to deliver effective policy that meets the best public interest? How to balance the different sources of power to build a new social contract on AI and digital governance?

And on global level, is the proliferation of multistakeholder initiatives a sign of weakening of the multilateral system, or can it rather strengthen its capacity to act on digital matters? How to build an effective digital global cooperation between key stakeholders?

Answering these fundamental questions requires a thorough understanding of the practical application of democratic principles and a broad perspective over the workings of public policy making in democratic systems. WLA – CdM Members, who are all democratic former Heads of State or Government, are in a unique position to provide such perspective, building on their individual and collective experience of inclusive approaches to public policy‐making. This project proposes to bring them together with a variety of stakeholders from the digital community – technological companies, civil society organizations, academics and public policy specialists – to shed light on these issues.

In this context, the Boston Global Forum – a leading convener of open public discussions gathering thought leaders and experts from around the globe ‐ is a partner of choice. Its initiative on a new Social Contract in the Digital Age brings the idea to merge governments, citizens, technological companies, civil society organizations, digital assistants and multilateral organizations with the aim of promoting a balance of power, rights, obligations, and interests to achieve a common digital governance based on the principles of fairness, trust, transparency, and accountability.

Contrasting the North American and European experiences, where digital policy‐making is most dynamic, should allow for the formulation of recommendations for national leaders and policy‐ makers based on best practices and the most innovative ideas to build a new social contract on artificial intelligence and digital governance, which in turn serves to strengthen the role of the multilateral system in this area.

2.     Objectives

In line with their common commitment to inclusive public policy making, the WLA‐CdM and Boston Global Forum propose to support national leaders and public policy‐makers from both sides of the Atlantic to identify ways of engaging technological companies as key stakeholders of digital governance while protecting the democratic mandate that underpins public policy‐ making. In this framework, conclusions and recommendations will also serve as inputs to strengthen the new social contract for artificial intelligence and digital governance, as well as the role of the multilateral system on these themes, harmonizing multilateralism and multistakeholderism approaches, and developing ways of using each to reinforce the effectiveness of the other.

3.     Activities / Methodology

During March 2020, the policy discussion will start with an online dialogue where participants will share their inputs answering a series of questions about the themes that will be addressed.

In April, the policy discussion will last one and a half days:

  • On the first day, a roundtable will be developed with approximately 30 participants, among which 15 WLA CdM Members and 15 experts in new technologies and artificial intelligence from different disciplines will be present ‐government, academy, civil society, technology companies‐. This roundtable will be divided into three thematic sessions.
  • On the second day, the policy discussion will be an open event that will take place during half a day divided in three

4.     Follow‐up

As a result of the policy lab, a report will be prepared with conclusions and policy recommendations on the issues addressed at the roundtable and in the plenaries sessions.

A second policy discussion will be held in the following months in Europe. After this event, a final report will be prepared.

Download PDF file here 

Social Contract 2020: Toward Safety, Security, & Sustainability for AI World


Advances in AI, Internet, social media, and threats to cybersecurity jointly shape a new worldwide ecosystem for which there is no precedent.  At issue is building new dimensions, even principles, which would shape the future of international law. Toward this end, the Social Contract 2020 has been introduced, framed, and further refined in four contexts:  (a) The Riga Conference, Oct 12, 2019, (b) “2019 Policy Dialogue on Artificial Intelligence” of World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid, Oct 21, 2019, (c) AI World Society – Summit 2020 at Loeb House, Harvard University, April 28, 2020, and (d) United Nations Charter Day, June 26, 2020.

Professor Nazli Choucri, MIT
Co-founder of the AIWS Innovation Network


The term “artificial intelligence” refers to the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, translation between languages, self-driving cars, and so forth.  Almost everyone recognizes that advances in AI have already altered conventional ways of viewing the world around us. This is creating new realities for everyone – as well as new possibilities.

These advances are powerful in many ways. They have created a new global ecology; yet they remain opaque and must be better understood. We have created new tradeoffs that must be assessed. We must now focus on critical principles and essential supporting practices for the new and emerging Social Contract 2020.

We must now re-think and consolidate the best practices for human development, recognizing the power and the value of the individual and of society.



Advances in AI are far more rapid that we appreciate. Fully understanding the scale of the AI domain remains elusive. We have seen a shift from executing instructions by humans to replicating humans, outperforming humans, and transcending humans.

We are at the beginning of a new era, a world of mind-machine convergence with biological drivers for both mind and machineAlso elusive is the management of embedded insecurities in applications of this new ubiquitous technology and the imperatives of safety and security.

When all is said done, AI remains: devoid of consciousness, empathy, and perhaps select other human features, such as ethics, so fundamental to humanity and the social order. Its current logic is situated at the frontiers of biological intelligence and machine intelligence. While it is generally anchored in past data, it has made possible whole new sources and forms of design space.

In sum: The world of AI today is framed by a set of unknowns — known unknowns and unknown unknowns — where technological innovation interacts with the potential for a total loss of human control.



There is a clear awareness in the international community of the challenges and opportunities, as well as the problems and perils of AI, and many are seeking ways of managing their approach to AI. At least 20 countries have announced formal strategies to promote the use and development of AI. No two strategies are alike, however there are common themes even among countries who focus on different aspects of AI policy. The most common themes addressed pertain to:

  • Scientific research,
  • Talent development,
  • Skills and education,
  • Public and private sector adoption,
  • Ethics and inclusion,
  • Standards and regulations, and
  • Data and digital infrastructure.

Concurrently, AI is becoming a focus for foreign policy and international cooperation – for both developed and developing states. There is a shared view that no country will be able to compete or meet the needs of its citizens without substantial AI capability.

More important, many countries are now involved in technology leapfrogging rather than in replicating known trajectories of the past century. It is no longer expected, nor is it necessary, to replicate the stages of economic development of the west —one phase at a time. Countries now frame their own priorities and strategies.

In sum, all countries are going through a common experience of adapting to and managing unknowns.  This commonality of shared elements result in a welcoming international atmosphere for a Social Contract 2020. What is the Social Contract 2020?



There is a long tradition of consensus-based social order founded on cohesion and not use of force nor formal regulation or legislation. It is a necessary precursor for managing change and responding to societal needs.

 The foundational questions are:  what, why, why and how?


A social contract is about supporting a course of action. It is inclusive and equitable. It focuses on the relationships among people, governments, and other key entities in society.


To articulate the concerns and find common convergences. And to frame ways of addressing and managing potential threats.


In today’s world, participants in the Social Contract 2020 involve:

  • Individuals as citizens and members of a community
  • Governments who execute citizen goals
  • Corporate and private entities whose operations involve

Business rights and responsibilities

  • Civil society that transcends the above
  • Innovators of AI and related technologies, and
  • Analysts of ethics and responsibility. None of the above can be “left out.”

Each of these constitutes a distinct center of power and influence.


The starting point consists of three foundational principles for powerful international cooperation that provide solid anchors for the Social Contract 2020:

(1) Precautionary Principle for Innovations and Applications:

The precautionary principle is well established internationally. It does not impede innovation, but supports it. It does not push for regulation, but supports initiatives to explore the unknown with care and caution.

(2)  Fairness and Justice for All

The second principle is already agreed upon in the international community as a powerful aspiration. It is the expectation of all entities – private and public — to treat, and be treated, with fairness and justice.

(3) Responsibility and accountability for policy and decision – private and public

The third principle recognizes the power of the new global ecology that will increasingly span all entities worldwide — private and public, developing and developed.

Jointly, these basic foundations – what, why, who and how – create powerful anchors for framing and implementing the Social Contract 2020.



All participants and centers of power and influence contribute to framing the legal order in the age of AI.  And each has rights and responsibilities that must be articulated and respected. An initial framing is presented below:

(1) Individuals, Citizens, Groups:

Everyone is entitled to basic rights and dignity that are enhanced (?) by AI and the Internet Age and entail greater responsibility:

Data Rights and Responsibilities

Each individual has a right to privacy and is entitled to a device to access and control their own data. Individuals have a right to organize ways of managing their data, individually or collectively.

Education and Political Participation

Each individual has the Right to be involved directly and effectively in political decisions.            Each has access to education/knowledge pertaining to the use and impact of AI.


Each individual is prohibited from exercising adverse behaviors, such as hacking and disseminating disinformation.


(2)  Governments:

Every government is expected to behave responsibly in the management of AI for governance and for interactions with individuals.

Governments Standards:

  • Create incentives for citizens to use AI in ways that benefit society.


United Nations and International Organizations:

  • Extend sphere to include AI and extend the upholding of international standards/norms/practices pertaining thereto.
  • Create and manage a universal digital currency.


(3) Business Entities

Business operations and related rights come with accountability and responsibility – nationally and internationally.

  • Respect independent audits for fairness, accountability, and cybersecurity.
  • Respect common AI values, standards, norms, and data ownership rules, and expect penalties for noncompliance.


(4) Civil Society Organizations:

Rights and responsibilities of civil society organizations include monitoring governments and firms with respect to common values.

  • Civil society organizations are responsible for compliance with common values/norms/standards/laws and expect penalties for noncompliance.
  • Support and recognize exemplary citizen contributions in AI area.


(5) AI Assistants:

AI assistants provide an interface to facilitate compliance with established standards.

  • Support AI users and assist them to serve the broad interests of society.
  • Engage with other power centers for mutual support and supervision.



            The Social Contract 2020 consists of general principles and directives for its implementation. Each country is different, as would be the approach to the implementation and adoption of Social Contract 2020. These preferences are often in the nature of tradeoffs at the intersection of AI and society. These are simply adjustment mechanisms to facilitate implementation of Social Contract 2020.  For example:   

  • Performance & explicability
  • Ethics & efficiency
  • Growth & sustainability
  • Convenience vs. safety
  • Power & accountability
  • Regulation & innovation
  • Security vs. stability

Social Contract 2020 helps steer societies to transcend current practices and forms of e-government by enabling and providing applications of AI to assist decision making for all critical functions – notably the provision of public services, performance of civic functions, and evaluation of public officials – supported by a Center for National Decision Making and Data (NDMD).

AI supported public services span major critical functions to enable automated public services assisted by AI, notably:

  • Health care and public health:

Build AI hospitals for remote, rural, and mountainous areas.

  • Education:

Build AI schools for remote, rural, and mountainous areas.

  • Law, legal services:

Build AI law, legal services.

  • Public transportation:

AI public transportation information and support system.

  • Public services for tourism:

AI public services for tourism.

  • Public services to support labors:

AI labor, job guidance system.

Enhancing cybersecurity in the ai world society


  • Governor Michael Dukakis, Boston Global Forum
  • Minister Taro Kono, Japanese Ministry of Defense
  • Mr. Yasuhide Nakayama, Former Japanese Foreign Affair Vice Minister
  • Prof. Alex Sandy Pentland, MIT
  • Prof. Nazli Choucri, MIT
  • Assistant Secretary Nam Pham, Massachusetts
  • Ms. Rebecca Leeper, AI World Society Innovation Network
  • Prof. Thomas Patterson, Harvard
Member of Boston Global Forum’s Board of Thinkers Cyber-politics Director, Michael Dukakis Institute Professor of Political Science, MIT
Chairman of The Michael Dukakis Institute for Leadership and Innovation; Co-Founder, Chairman of The Board of Directors and Board of  Thinkers, The Boston Global Forum; Democratic Party Nominee for President of the United States, 1988; Distinguished Professor J.D., Harvard University
Taro Kono
Taro Kono
Japanese Minister of Defense
Tarō Kōno is a Japanese politician belonging to the Liberal Democratic Party. He is a member of the House of Representatives, and has served as Minister for Defense since a Cabinet re-shuffle by Prime Minister Shinzō Abe on 11 September 2019
Kanagawa 15th Electoral District (elected eight times)
Rebecca Leeper
Rebecca Leeper
AI World Society Innovation Network - Practitioner
Excellent technical and business communications skills, written and public speaking. Dedicated to integrating new technology with cross- functional teams. Skilled in planning and executing on strict deadlines. Strong leadership and team-oriented attitude.
Yasuhide Nakayama
Yasuhide Nakayama
Former Japanese Foreign Affair Vice Minister
Yasuhide Nakayama is a Japanese politician representing the Liberal Democratic Party, elected in December 2012 as a member of the House of Representatives of Japan and was re-elected in the December 2015 and 2017 elections. Mr Nakayama is the current State Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Japanese cabinet
Research Director of The Michael Dukakis Institute for Leadership and Innovation, Professor of Government and the Press of Harvard Kennedy School
Professor Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland directs the MIT Connection Science and Human Dynamics labs and previously helped create and direct the MIT Media Lab and the Media Lab Asia in India
Massachusetts - Assistant Secretary
the Assistant Secretary of Business Development and International Trade, Government of Massachusetts
Marc Rotenberg
Marc Rotenberg
President and Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center
Marc Rotenberg is President and Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an independent, public interest research center in Washington, DC.


  • Adrien Abecassis, Advisor for European Affairs and Senior Political Advisor to the President of France
  • Prof. Constantine Arvanitopouluos, Tufts, Former Greek Minister of Education, Culture
  • Nicola De Blasio, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Anders Corr, President of Corr Analyst
  • Sharon Dow, Operating Partner, Dow Private
  • Prof. Duc Tran University of Massachusetts at Boston
  • Juan Gallego, Noreastern University
  • Lyndon Haviland, Adviser of United Nations Secretary General
  • Dang Thu Hien, Fellow, University of Massachusetts at Boston
  • Eugene B. Kogan, Executive Director, American Secretaries of State Project
  • Andrew Lewman, Vice President of DarkOwl
  • Van McComick, Founding Director, International Economic Alliance
  • Fernando Morera, EY
  • Barry Nolan, Executive Board Member of Boston Global Forum, Adviser of US Congress
  • Bill Ottman, Co-Founder and CEO of
  • Jean Marc Paudraud, Business Leader in Boston
  • Dick Pirozzolo, Writer
  • Prof. Marc Rotenberg, President of EPIC
  • Jeff Saviano, EY
  • Anina Schwarzenbach, Fellow Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Prof. Jeffrey Shaw, Naval War College
  • Prof. H. David Sherman, Northeastern University
  • Michael Siegel, Principal Research Scientist, Director, Cybersecurity at MIT Sloan
  • Prof. David Silbersweig, Harvard
  • Kate Stebbins, University of Massachusetts
  • Prof. Peter Szolovits, MIT
  • Nguyen Anh Tuan, Boston Global Forum
  • Dang Minh Tuan, Fulbright Scholar at New York University (NYU)
  • Tommy Vallely, Harvard
  • Prof. Christo Wilson, Berkman Center, Harvard
  • Prof. Josephine Wolff, Tufts University
  • Lauren Zabierek, Executive Director of Cybersecurity Project, Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School

You can download detail Agenda here

World Leader for Peace and Security Award’s acceptance speech of President Vaira Vike-Freiberga


The former President of Latvia and current president of World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid, which has more than 100 former head of states and governments as members, calls for “more fundamental research on the impact of Artificial Intelligence in society and democracy”, for us to be prepared for the implications of the digital transformation. Here is the video of her acceptance speech at the Dinner Conference honoring her as World Leader For Peace and Security Award on October 21, 2019, organized by the Boston Global Forum and World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid and attended by 35 former presidents, prime ministers, current leaders, and thoughtleaders.

Boston Global Forum and World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid co-organized Conference Dinner Honoring President Vaira Vike Freiberga

The World Leadership Alliance – Club de Madrid (WLA-CdM), a global assembly of over 110 democratic former Heads of State and Government from over 60 countries, convened its Annual Policy Dialogue in Madrid on 21-22 October 2019. Hosted in partnership with the IE School of Global and Public Affairs and under the patronage of Ms Mariya Gabriel, Member of the European Commission, this 2019 edition focused on Digital Transformation and the Future of Democracy. In this Annual Policy Dialog, the Boston Global Forum and the World Leadership co-organized  Conference Dinner Honoring President Vaira Vike Freiberga as World Leader For Peace And Security Award on October 21, 2019.


Member of AIWS Standards and Practice Committee, Michael Dukakis Institute

Former Prime Minister of Peru

Beatriz Merino was the first female Prime Minister of Peru. She held office between June 23, 2003 and December 12, 2003. Before serving as Prime Minister, she graduated from Harvard with a Master’s degree in law and had a successful career at Procter & Gamble. After her time at Procter & Gamble, she was elected as Senator from 1990-1992 and Congresswoman from 1995- 2000. During that time she served as President of the Environmental Committee and the Women’s Rights Committee.

Merino is widely recognized for her expertise and work with women’s issues. She was the Director of the Women’s Leadership Program, now known as Gender Equality in Development Unit, at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C. which aims to support and finance projects to enhance women’s leadership in Latin America. She was also a member of the board of directors for the International Women Forum and a steering committee member for the Business Women’s Initiative against HIV/AIDS. Merino also worked extensively in commercial, labor, corporate, and environmental legislation. She was the first Peruvian woman to serve on the Commission of Andean Jurists. At Lima University, she was the Director of Foreign Cooperation and of the Master’s program on tax revenue and fiscal policies.

She has authored two books, “Peruvian Women in the XX Century Legislation” and “Marriage and Rape: Debate of Article 178 of the Peruvian Criminal Code.” She served as Peru’s public ombudsman from September 2005 until March 2011.

She is honored as Women Political Leaders Trailblazer Award 2019.