Governments around the world are coming to terms with the fact that AI will profoundly transform their economies and societies. When we founded The Future Society in 2014 at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, we did so with the profound belief that the world is undergoing a radical transformation, across industry, cities, regions and nations; and that this necessitates innovative interdisciplinary thinking and dialogue between governments, industry, techno-science and civil society.
When Helen Liang approached The Future Society with the idea of brokering a US-China dialogue between business leaders, we saw an opportunity for impact. No doubt, as with any international dialogue, there would be sensitivities to navigate. But anyone who has thought hard about how the world could arrive at an international framework to govern AI knows that no such effort could be successful without buy-in from the first, and second, largest investors in AI technology in the world.
The fact is, AI offers tremendous potential for humanity, but also very serious downsides and risks. Governing its rise means striking the right balance as the technology deploys and scales. This is critical in an ever more competitive and interdependent world where markets, industry value-chains and knowledge creation processes are deeply integrated. With the velocity and magnitude of the AI Revolution, we are locked, as it were, together on a rocketship, hurtling towards what we hope will be an exciting new world. It’s up to us to work together to make sure we avoid the many obstacles along the way to build the future society that we want.
This is a quest that demands pragmatism and cooperation. That is why The Future Society believes this table-setting dialogue we convened is so important. There are many more who must come to the table, but those of us who gathered in Half Moon Bay this past June are part of a proof-of-concept for how leaders in technology, industry and civil society can build bridges of understanding. We’d like to thank all the speakers, partners, and participants for being a part of this seminal gathering, and very much hope you’ll stay engaged as we work to build more bridges in the coming months.
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About the authors: Nicolas Economou is Director of The Future Society and CEO of H5; Nicolas Miailhe is Co-Founder and President of The Future Society; Cyrus Hodes is Senior Advisor to The Future Society and Advisor to UAE’s AI Minister.