Women at the Table

Fragmented AI governance: how to design a path towards coherence?

Academic workshop

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies become increasingly integrated into different sectors of society, the need for robust governance mechanisms becomes paramount. While multistakeholder governance of the Internet brought together diverse actors – including governments, the private sector, civil society, and technical communities – to manage the Internet’s resources, rulebook, and technical standards, AI governance represents a radically different evolution and in a dramatically different geopolitical context. It is characterized by disparate regulatory approaches, standards, and practices adopted by different stakeholders, often with conflicting interests and priorities, and with an appetite for ethics rather than governance. In this context, the role of civil society and the dynamics of standard-setting remain pivotal yet underexplored areas.

This workshop will bring together experts from academia, international organizations, civil society and technologists to delve deep into these participatory aspects of AI governance. It aims to discuss the involvement of non-state actors in the design and governance of emerging technologies and more specifically in cooperative governance practices for AI, at a time of increased geopolitical tensions.

A multi-stakeholder governance model is crucial to ensure that technologies are developed and used in ways that reflect the diverse needs and values of all stakeholders. We also need to ensure that tech governance is not reduced to weak ethical guidelines. In the context of AI governance, the challenge lies in the technical nature of AI and power imbalances (particularly skewed towards influential nation- states and big tech), which can hinder meaningful participation from actors operating on a smaller scale or within specific domains.

This workshop provides an opportunity to reflect on a common path towards a coherent AI governance framework, based on small “d” democratic practices of participation. Using an interactive format that draws on the expertise of the participants, we will explore the tensions arising from a fragmented AI landscape, implications for its governance, as well as potential contributions from the Geneva ecosystem. This workshop is co-organized by Dr. Jérôme Duberry (Geneva Graduate Institute) and Prof. Roxana Radu (Oxford University).

Last modified: November 11, 2023