Reports  |    |  June 19, 2019

Artificial Intelligence and the Good Society: The Search for New Metrics, Governance and Philosophical Perspective

Report on the Third Annual Aspen Institute Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence.
David Bollier, Rapporteur. 62 pages.

The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program released “Artificial Intelligence and the Good Society: The Search for New Metrics, Governance and Philosophical Perspective”, an expository report that captures a robust debate amongst thought-leaders around the promises and perils for governance and evaluation metrics of AI systems. The recommendations are the result of the convening of the third annual Aspen Institute Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence held in February 2019 in Santa Barbara, California.  The Roundtable was sponsored by the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.

Key suggestions apply broadly to education, infrastructure and governance.

Among the key suggestions:

  • Research:
    • To address the emergence of harmful and discriminatory results emanating from AI research, policy-makers should consider the establishment of review boards for targeted deliberations in evaluating the efficacy of AI systems that may impact specific communities, imploring both expert and non-expert reviewers;
  • Diversity and Inclusion:
    • With a lack of diversity among AI designers and business people, there must be an increase in government, business and philanthropic support for programs and organizations whose work focuses on (a) diversifying accessibility of AI technologies both in the traditional education system and alternative pathways, as well as (b) promoting the recruitment and retention of diverse candidates in the field;
  • Governance:
    • As AI increases in exposure at scale, efforts must be made to better understand the deployment and adoption of AI technologies as well as regulatory matters across multiple jurisdictions particularly at the state and local levels. Additionally, the U.S. Congress should develop better capacity for evaluating highly technical proposals coming before it in the AI field.“Artificial intelligence has had and will continue to have profound effects on our society. Its benefits not only include increased efficiencies across societal sectors but also a transformational change in knowledge generation, communication and personalized experiences,” said Charlie Firestone, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program. “At the same time, these advances can have counterweights in certain uses, unintended consequences, or control by bad actors. Balancing AI innovation against these potential harms is both critical and necessary for the future of human progress.”

The report is available online at http://as.pn/artintel or by contacting the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program at (202) 736-5818 or at aspencs@aspeninstitute.org.  Earlier reports in the Aspen Institute Conference on Communications Policy series are also available at csreports.aspeninstitute.org.


The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas. The Institute is based in Washington, DC and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

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 fosters global leadership to explore new concepts, exchange insights, develop meaningful networks, and find personal growth, all for the betterment of society.