The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Schwarzman College of Computing has convened the AI Policy Forum, which it said will provide “an overarching policy framework and tools for governments and companies to implement in concrete ways.”

“Today, artificial intelligence – and the computing systems that underlie it – are more than just matters of technology; they are matters of state and society, of governance and the public interest,” MIT said in a statement. “The choices that technologists, policymakers, and communities make in the next few years will shape the relationship between machines and humans for decades to come.”

MIT explained that the AI Policy Forum is designed as a year-long process and will be focused on delivering tangible outcomes. Specifically, the forum will engage with government officials at the local, national, and international level charged with designing public AI policies, and will aim to develop technical grounding in the latest advances in AI. The forum will measure its success by whether its efforts have helped bridge the gap between stakeholder communities, developed actionable outcomes, and helped create the conditions for deeper trust between humans and machines.

“Our goal is to help policymakers in making practical decisions about AI policy,” said Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing. “We are not trying to develop another set of principles around AI, several of which already exist, but rather provide context and guidelines specific to a field of use of AI to help policymakers around the world with implementation.”

MIT Provost Martin Schmidt expanded on Huttenlocher’s reference to already existing AI principles.

“Moving beyond principles means understanding trade-offs and identifying the technical tools and the policy levers to address them. We created the college to examine and address these types of issues, but this can’t be a siloed effort. We need for this to be a global collaboration and engage scientists, technologists, policymakers, and business leaders,” Schmidt said. “This is a challenging and complex process for which we need all hands on deck.”

The global AI Policy Forum is slated to begin operations later this year and into early 2021 and feature a series of task forces. The task forces will be chaired by MIT researchers and will bring together leading technical and policy experts. While the forum will focus on a wide range of issues regarding AI policy, the task forces will start with AI in finance and mobility. MIT noted that additional task forces will be created throughout 2021.

“Each task force will produce results that inform concrete public policies and frameworks for the next chapter of AI, and help define the roles that the academic and business communities, civil society, and governments will need to play in making it a reality,” MIT said.

Research from the various task forces will aid in the development of the Forum’s AI Policy Framework. The framework will be a dynamic assessment tool intended to help governments gauge their progress on AI policy-making goals and guide the application of best practices appropriate to their national priorities.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.