Overview

The Future Society (TFS) is an independent nonprofit organization based in the US and Europe with a mission to align AI through better governance.

TFS was incubated at the Harvard Kennedy School of governance in 2014 before incorporating in the US as a 501(c)(3) in 2016 and then in Estonia in 2021.

We take a systematic approach to developing programs that address institutional barriers in AI governance. Our three-pronged process involves undergoing horizon scanning and impact-planning exercises to define potential AI governance programs, conducting applied research and collective intelligence exercises to design select programs, and building coalitions and advocacy campaigns to deploy programs with high impact.

Our mission

Aligning artificial intelligence* through better governance*.

*By artificial intelligence, we refer to the OECD definition, and aim to cover both narrow AI systems with specific purposes and capabilities and general-purpose AI systems with more versatile capabilities.

*By governance, we mean the ‘rules of the game’—formal and informal mechanisms such as policies, norms, tools, and instruments that affect the behaviors of AI actors (i.e. regulators, developers, and deployers).

Our impact 

>8,000

senior decision-makers engaged

>30,000

citizens engaged

>4,000

students taught

>60

institutional partners

>100

countries reached

We have been a key player in AI governance since our founding in 2015. Across our public events, we have engaged over 8,000 senior decision-makers globally, be they legislators, industry representatives, academics, civil society advocates, or regulators. With our various platforms, we have also engaged over 30,000 citizens. Through our education programs, we have taught 4,000 students and senior executives from the public and private sectors about various aspects of AI governance. This would not have been possible without over 60 institutional partners, such as the World Bank, UNESCO, IEEE, OECD, H5, Microsoft, and The Future of Life Institute. As the governance of AI concerns us all, we recognize that global diversity is crucial. This is reflected not only in our team but also in the fact that the thousands of people we have engaged with so far come from over 100 countries across 5 continents.


Documentation

Our latest Annual Reports and Forms 990(-EZ) are available here:

↓ What makes us different

1. Global Reach & Network

We advance the governance of AI in a globally inclusive way, amplifying neglected global voices. That’s why we have engaged with thousands of decision-makers from over 100 countries; why our team, advisors and affiliates are spread across 22 countries; and why we have organized roundtables, courses, research, workshops and shared knowledge on 5 continents.

2. Institutional Innovation

We are institutional entrepreneurs. The challenges and opportunities posed  by the rise of AI require novel governance approaches, architectures, and constructs to help forge new social contracts adapted to our times. That’s why we are spearheading the creation of new institutions: the AI Commons Initiative, the International Panel on AI (IPAI), the IEEE Global Initiative on the Ethics of Autonomous & Intelligent Systems, the Global Governance of AI Forum, the Global Data Commons, the AI for Sustainable Development Goals Center and the Council on Extended Intelligence.

3. Independence & Trust

We are independent from multinational corporations. Our expertise, professionalism and commitment to advancing the global governance of AI have earned us the trust of key stakeholders in the ecosystem, from government, industry, international organizations, academia and civil society. That’s why we strive for diversified sources of funding, for partnerships that safeguard intellectual honesty and for balanced panels and boards. As we grow our organization and our funding base, we’ll continue to improve our governance and standards of accountability.

4. Collective Intelligence

We know that the rise of AI is a complex phenomenon, and that in order to address it effectively we must bring together a very diverse group of experts and practitioners around the latest collective intelligence tools and methodologies. Through our carefully crafted and curated workshops, forums, conferences and online dialogues, we generate actionable policy options and pathways.

5. Omni-stakeholder Participation

We work to engage with a wide and diverse set of stakeholders in the community, drawn from the fields of industry, government, academia, international organizations, and civil society organizations. Given the systemic complexity, uncertainty, and velocity associated with the rise of AI, we believe that governance pathways, frameworks and protocols can only be sustainable if they result from the participation of a wide and deep range of stakeholders. That’s why we anchor our work in the mobilization of the latest collective intelligence methodologies & tools.

6. Strategic Timeline

To govern the rise of AI wisely and effectively, we believe it is of paramount importance to work across time horizons, and reconcile policy challenges and opportunities in the short, medium and long term. That’s why throughout our activities, we articulate the issues strategically: we consider the implications of tomorrow’s problems for today’s decisions and vice versa. We seek to reconcile preoccupations of the end of the day, the end of the month, and of the end of the world.