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What is the Roundtable on AI?

The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an annual private seminar of business executives, government leaders, and visionaries. It examines the implications of artificially intelligent technologies on societies, governments, communities and individuals, and the new leadership roles that are required.

This is the third year of the annual Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence, which explores the various nuanced issues in assessing tradeoffs between the benefits of AI and the potential negative social consequences. The Roundtable is generously supported by the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.

This site displays the report that resulted from the 2019 AI convening that took place in Santa Barbara, CA. The series of chapters, written by rapporteur David Bollier, synthesize the ideas that emerged from participants during the two-day dialogue, aiming to develop a more sophisticated, timely understanding of the latest technology innovations affecting society.

About the Communications and Society Program

The Communications and Society Program advances democratic values through communications and information technology policy. The Program convenes diverse global leaders and experts, frames issues for the exchange of insights on the societal impact of digital and network technologies, and catalyzes new policies and leadership that serve the public interest. It enables global leaders and experts to explore new concepts, exchange insights, develop meaningful networks, and find personal growth, all for the betterment of society. 

The Program’s projects range across many areas of information, communications and media policy, such as artificial intelligence, broadband and spectrum policy, race and media, institutional innovation, and diplomacy and technology. The Program has also run ongoing projects on trust, media and democracy, and on the future of public libraries.

Most conferences employ the signature Aspen Institute seminar format:  approximately 25 leaders from diverse disciplines and perspectives engaged in roundtable dialogue, moderated with the goal of driving the agenda to specific conclusions and recommendations. The Program distributes its conference reports and other materials to key policymakers, opinion leaders and the public around the world. Its digital reports platform aims to inform and ignite broader conversations at the intersection of democracy and communications technologies.

The Program’s Executive Director is Charles M. Firestone. He has served in this capacity since 1989 and is also a Vice President of the Aspen Institute. Prior to joining the Institute, Mr. Firestone was a communications attorney and law professor who argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court and many in the courts of appeals. He is a former director of the UCLA Communications Law Program, first president of the Los Angeles Board of Telecommunications Commissioners, and an appellate attorney for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.