Innovating with Integrity: Dr. Alondra Nelson’s Distinguished Speech at “Governing the Future: AI, Public Policy, and Democracy”

May 6, 2024News, World Leaders in AIWS Award Updates

The BGF honored Dr. Alondra Nelson with the 2024 World Leader in AIWS Award for her leadership in AI governance and policymaking at the conference “Governing the Future: AI, Democracy, and Humanity” on April 30, 2024. Governor Michael Dukakis, Chair of Boston Global Forum, and Nguyen Anh Tuan, Co-chair and CEO of Boston Global Forum, presented her with the award in the ceremony.

Afterwards, Dr. Nelson delivered an AIWS Distinguished Speech titled “Governing the Future: AI, Public Policy, and Democracy.” Her speech delved into the vision of AI governance with emphasis on democratic participation and policy innovation – so that democratic principles are upheld during the paradigm shift, but technology and the sciences can thrive too. She emphasized:

  • The benefits of AI are not inevitable; they are not inherent properties of the technology. Rather, any potential beneficial uses of AI tools and systems must be stewarded through innovative AI governance including regulations, laws, standards, and norms. This is how we govern the future.
  • Perhaps counterintuitively, the November 2022 release of ChatGPT was the opening of a democratic opportunity. This was the moment when the public took notice of the perils and possibilities of the growing uses of AI in their lives and, in some powerful instances, such as the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes, successfully advocated to place guardrails around its use.

Dr. Nelson not only shed light on the challenges and opportunities presented by AI but also inspired attendees to actively engage in shaping the future of AI governance and guide it toward ethical progress for all. Her insights call on both civil society and government to ensure the possibilities AI holds will lead to outcomes beneficial for the public good. It is not a false dilemma of pursuing efficiency versus ensuring equity; and a long-term vision of state-level policymaking and stewardship can help guide AI development toward an ethical and prosperous society.

In addition to her distinguished speech, BGF and its Chief Editor Minh Nguyen had the opportunity to interview Dr. Nelson about her work in AI policymaking and her thoughts on geopolitical trends and areas for cooperation and competition in technology. BGF will publish a special document on the 2024 World Leader in AIWS Award and Conference based on the AIWS Distinguished Speech, interview, and notes from the talks of Ami Fields-Meyer, former Senior Policy Advisor to the White House; MIT professors Alex Sandy Pentland and Nazli Choucri, and BGF CEO Tuan Nguyen.