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Main Insight

2022 was a year of transition and growth at The Future Society.

New year. New TFS.

January 24, 2023

When TFS launched 7 years ago, the field of AI governance was only beginning to take shape. Much of our early work focused on building awareness around the impact we expected AI systems to have, and on developing the frameworks and institutions that now provide foundations for AI governance.

As technology has evolved, so, too, has the field of AI governance. It has grown tremendously—but indeed, out of necessity: the challenges we face today are not only more demanding but also qualitatively different than those in our early years. Increasingly capable and general-purpose AI systems will require us to rethink the way in which the technology is researched, developed, and deployed.

To address the challenges ahead of us, TFS has implemented a new vision, mission, and operational model, which will enable us to identify institutional barriers and develop governance solutions in a more agile manner. In doing so, we’re going to leverage the assets we’ve built over the years, and which make TFS unique: our interdisciplinary expertise; our track record in convening diverse developers, deployers, investors, and regulators of AI systems; and our on-the-ground experience in implementing AI policies at national and transnational levels.

We want to extend our best wishes to our community at this turn of the year, which, given our strategic transitions, marks a significant milestone for us. We welcome you to read more about our changes moving forward and look forward to engaging with you in the years to come.

TFS convenes policymakers, legal experts, tech leaders, and civil society in Brussels

In early December 2022, the fourth edition of The Athens Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence and the Rule of Law brought together policymakers, legal experts, judicial operators, civil servants, industry leaders, and civil society representatives from 112 countries. The hybrid event included in-person panels at the European Parliament supplemented by polls, questions, and discussions amongst an online audience.

Co-founded by The Future Society in 2019, The Athens Roundtable has served as the premier international, multi-stakeholder AI governance forum within the prism of legal, judicial, and compliance systems. The fourth edition focused on the implementation and enforcement of laws, regulations, standards, and policies across the industrial value chain of AI systems. In keeping with technological and regulatory trends, topics spanned the forthcoming EU AI Act, generative AI, and coordinating international efforts to measure and evaluate AI systems.

The convening was organized in partnership with Patrick J. McGovern Foundation and co-hosted by prominent intergovernmental organizations, including the European Parliament, UNESCO, OECD, and Council of Europe, as well as leading AI institutions and firms, including IEEE, Cravath, and Amazon Web Services. The supporting organizations included the Jain Family Institute, Arnold and Porter, and Debevoise and Plimpton.

You are invited to watch the panels, fireside chats, and keynotes, which are now accessible on YouTube, via the button below.

Working group publishes A Manifesto on Enforcing Law in the Age of “Artificial Intelligence”

From June to October 2022, a working group under the title of the Transatlantic Reflection Group on Democracy and the Rule of Law in the Age of “Artificial Intelligence,” comprised of legal practitioners and academics from both sides of the Atlantic, convened to draft A Manifesto on Enforcing Law in the Age of “Artificial Intelligence”. This Manifesto calls for the effective and legitimate enforcement of laws concerning AI systems, and, in doing so, recognizes the important and complementary role of standards and compliance practices.

The Manifesto offers 10 recommendations to address enforcement challenges shared across transatlantic stakeholders. These recommendations present practically feasible steps that policymakers and regulators can take to create enforcement regimes that are both effective throughout the lifecycle of AI systems and consistent with democratic values. The Manifesto was subsequently discussed at a fireside chat at The Athens Roundtable in December 2022 with US FTC Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Principle Advisor to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers Paul Nemitz, moderated by Dr. Francesco Lapenta.

We warmly welcome you to read and sign the Manifesto.

TFS champions regulatory sandboxes in the EU AI Act

TFS has been advocating for regulatory sandboxes to be implemented in the EU legislative ecosystem, beginning with the publication of Experimentation, testing & audit as a cornerstone for trust and excellence in early 2020, in response to the European Commission’s February 2020 White Paper on Artificial Intelligence.

In February 2022, TFS published a memo titled Sandboxes without the quicksand: making EU AI sandboxing work for regulators, entrepreneurs and society. This memo proposed a three-stage program aimed to help policymakers implement regulatory sandboxes. We are glad that regulatory sandboxes have been institutionalized in Europe as part of the European Commission’s New European Innovation Agenda, in July 2022.

We welcome the European Parliament’s decision to carry our recommendations regarding the design and operationalization of sandboxes into negotiations. We look forward to continuing to contribute to the development of regulatory sandboxes, among other innovative elements of the EU AI Act, as they are ironed out.

Are you an EU regulator or policymaker interested in learning more about regulatory sandboxes? Contact our Director of European AI Governance, Nicolas Moës, via the button below.

TFS develops national AI strategies and policies in Rwanda, Ghana, and Tunisia

From 2020 to 2022, TFS worked with GIZ, Smart Africa, and public sector ministries from three national governments—Rwanda, Tunisia, and Ghana—to develop their national AI strategies. TFS led participative consultations with local institutions, conducted SWOT analyses of local AI ecosystems, drafted ethical guidelines, and developed implementation plans to support each country in achieving its respective national objectives and sustainable development goals.

In May 2022, TFS co-led stakeholder consultation workshops in both Tunis and Accra to support the development of Tunisia’s and Ghana’s national AI strategies. Consultations in Tunis ultimately informed the design of policy pillars, ranging from human capital development to sectoral adoption, cloud computing strategies, and data governance. In Accra, TFS supported a virtual, transnational peer-learning workshop with experts from Rwanda—with whom we collaborated to develop Rwanda’s national AI strategy—regarding AI metrology and national strategy implementation to inform the development of Ghana’s cross-ministerial policies.

Launch of massive open online course (MOOC) on AI and the Rule of Law

In March 2022, The Future Society and UNESCO—with the support of the National Judicial College,, and IEEE SA—launched a global Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on AI and the rule of law. Structured around six modules, the course provides an introduction to the opportunities and risks of the adoption of AI across judicial systems, and explores AI’s impact on the administration of justice.

The pilot course welcomed 4,432 participants from over 140 countries, delivering on its objectives to strengthen the capacities of judicial operators worldwide—to protect human rights, democratic principles, and the rule of law.

The MOOC is still accessible and can be taken as a self-paced course.

TFS contributes to three seminal reports on AI and the environment

In his capacity as Co-Lead of the Global Partnership on AI’s Project RAISE (Responsible AI for the Environment), TFS’s President Nico Miailhe led the commissioning of three actionable reports in 2022. These reports were presented at the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in November, and the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal in December:

Last, but not least, we grew!

TFS doubled in size: 5 new staff joined this past year, bringing our team to a formidable 10. Click the faces below to read our staff members’ profiles.

Amanda Leal

Evan Price

Faisal Alkhatib

Felicity Reddel

Toni Lorente

Every dollar counts.

The Future Society is an independent nonprofit (501(c)3) organization. Philanthropy is what makes our work possible.

We are eager to scale up our impact. In fact, we have a number of projects queued up, but we require additional staff. If you find value in our work, please consider making a donation. Your support for The Future Society goes directly towards bringing more talent and expertise to our team.

If you would like to hear more about our plan for impact, please do not hesitate to write to us.

Related resources

Response to NIST Generative AI Public Working Group Request for Resources

Response to NIST Generative AI Public Working Group Request for Resources

TFS submitted a list of clauses to govern the development of general-purpose AI systems (GPAIS) to the U.S. NIST Generative AI Public Working Group (NIST GAI-PWG).

Response to U.S. OSTP Request for Information on National Priorities for AI

Response to U.S. OSTP Request for Information on National Priorities for AI

Our response put forward national priorities focused on security standards, measurement and evaluation frameworks, and an industry-wide code of conduct for GPAIS development.

Strengthening the AI operating environment

Strengthening the AI operating environment

In a paper published at the International Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Assistance for Legal Professionals in the Digital Workplace (Legal AIIA), Dr. Bruce Hedin and Samuel Curtis present an argument for distributed competence as a means to mitigate risks posed by AI systems.

Response to U.S. NTIA AI Accountability Policy Request for Comment

Response to U.S. NTIA AI Accountability Policy Request for Comment

Our response emphasized the need for scrutiny in the design and development of general-purpose AI systems (GPAIS). We encourage the implementation of third-party assessments and audits, contestability tools for impacted persons, and a horizontal regulatory approach toward GPAIS.

Policy achievements in the EU AI Act

Policy achievements in the EU AI Act

The draft AI Act approved by the European Parliament contains a number of provisions for which TFS has been advocating, including a special governance regime tailored to general-purpose AI systems. Collectively, these operationalize safety, fairness, accountability, and transparency in the development and deployment of AI systems.

Byte-sized updates & we’re hiring!

Byte-sized updates & we’re hiring!

The pace of AI developments has kept us busy, and we’re excited to share what we’ve been up to in this quarter’s newsletter.