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AI 2020 - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence?
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 fourth year of the annual Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence, entitled Artificial Intimacy, which explored the various nuanced issues in assessing, defining and developing a future between human and machine. The Roundtable is generously supported by Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.

What is the purpose of this website?
This site displays the report that resulted from the 2020 AI convening that took place in Santa Barbara, CA. The series of chapters, written by rapporteur Kristine Gloria, 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.

What is the Aspen Digital Program?
Aspen Digital empowers policy makers, civic organizations, companies and the public to be responsible stewards of technology and digital media in the service of a more just and equitable world. Through convenings, fellowships, publications, interactive toolkits, and thought leadership, we work towards values-based and human solutions to digital challenges. Aspen Digital shines a light on urgent global issues across the news information ecosystem, cybersecurity, emerging technology, urban innovation and the technology talent pipeline—and then turns ideas into action. Our flagship initiatives include the Tech Policy Hub, Aspen Cyber Summit, Cybersecurity Group, Center for Urban Innovation, Communications Policy Roundtable, Emerging Technology Trust Initiative, and the Tech X Talent Project.

What is the Communications and Society Program?
The Communications and Society Program, formerly led by Charlie Firestone, is now part of the Aspen Digital program, headed by Executive Director Vivian Schiller. For more information see

Who leads the Aspen Institute Digital Program?
Vivian is an award-winning journalist and accomplished media leader and thinker—from roles at CNN and the New York Times to leading NPR as CEO from 2009-2011 and serving as NBC News’s chief digital officer from 2011-2013, as well as time at Twitter leading its global news effort. Most recently, she headed the Civil Foundation. Today, among her many roles, she sits on the board of the Scott Trust, which owns The Guardian, as well as a variety of other boards and advisory councils in journalism and information security.

Who moderates the Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence?
Charlie Firestone, the former Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, has moderated the Roundtable in the past.

Who are the participants at the Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence?
Participants from the 2020 program include thought leaders from academia, non-profits and industry. Notable participants include, Tom Gruber, Marc Rotenberg, Songyee Yoon, and Takanori Shibata.

Who are Guest Scholars?
The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program Guest Scholar Program is a scholarship initiative meant to give students of color the opportunity to foster their professional and academic career in the field of artificial intelligence. Each year doctoral (or other advanced graduate program) students of color are invited to apply for a Guest Scholarship to attend the Annual Aspen Institute Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence. As a Guest Scholar, students are full participants in roundtable discussions. Scholars have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of competing tensions on important AI issues and get the opportunity to gain a network of professional colleagues.

How can I become a Guest Scholar?
Applications are currently closed.

Can I attend the Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence?
Participants at the Roundtable are a carefully balanced group of key decision makers from the technology and information industries, user and consumer groups, academics, non-profit leaders, and representatives from government that are invited for their expertise, creativity and influential public policy ideas. Participation at the Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence is by invitation only. 

Where does the Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence take place?
The Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence is an annual summer event that has taken place at the Aspen Meadows Conference Center in Aspen, Colorado, and at the Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara, CA.

Does the Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence have the same theme every year?
The Artificial Intelligence themes vary each year, but always examine issues of how these artificially intelligent technologies will impact our society, our economies, our governments and our well-being. Previous Artificial Intelligence topics include: Artificial Intelligence Comes of Age and Artificial Intelligence: The Great Disrupter