On The Ground: Debating the Digital Future Forum

3 questions about navigating the AI frontier

Jul 27, 2023 2 min read

This is an exciting moment for artificial intelligence. Technology companies, policymakers, and academics are all working to determine where the technology goes next. How will AI change our lives? How can technology companies innovate responsibly? How can the private and public sector work together to deliver the best outcomes?

To answer these questions, experts came together at the “Debating the Digital Future” forum, programmed by Economist Impact.

Featured speakers included:

  • Ted Lieu, Congressman, US House of Representatives
  • Miriam Vogel, President, EqualAI
  • Kent Walker, President, Global Affairs, Google & Alphabet
  • Bruce Andrews, Chief Government Affairs Officer, Intel
  • Chris Meserole, Director, AI & Emerging TechInitiative, Brookings
  • Laurie Richarson, Vice President, Trust & Safety, Google
  • William Halal, Professor Emeritus of Management, Technology and Innovation at George Washington University
  • Kendra Parlock, Vice President Partnership Development, NPower
Watch this video for the forum highlights.

Read on to see the highlights from the day’s conversations.

How do we integrate innovation into regulatory structures?

With every new technology comes a range of new economic and societal changes, many of which are difficult to predict early on. This often makes regulation challenging, since policymakers need time to determine how to best respond to the potential short-and long-term impact of new innovations.

Watch the Integrating innovation into a regulatory structure segment with Ted Lieu, moderated by Idrees Kahloon, Washington bureau chief, The Economist.

How do we best balance AI innovation with social responsibility?

When leveraged responsibly, AI can be a powerful tool for solving some of society’s most pressing problems, from agriculture to healthcare. But, to ensure that everyone can benefit from AI, we must also build the right guardrails.

"We have to do an awful lot to get there, to earn societal trust,” said Kent Walker, Google’s President of Global Affairs, in the event’s opening panel. Doing so, he said, requires that we "lean into the notion of not just an opportunity agenda, but also [a] responsibility agenda [and a] security agenda.”

Read Kent Walker’s reflections of this discussion on Linkedin here.

Watch the discussion between Kent Walker, Miriam Vogel, and moderator James Bennet, Lexington columnist and senior editor, The Economist.

How should we balance open technology with security?

Technology and openness go hand-in-hand. Products like Google Search, for example, were built to make the world’s information as accessible to as many people as possible. But with the advent of AI, new questions are emerging about how to best balance openness with user security and trust.

In this session, Laurie Richardson, VP for Trust & Safety at Google, shares how this question is informing how companies develop new products.

Watch the discussion between Laurie Richardson, Chris Meserole, and Bruce Andrews, Moderated by Simon Rabinovitch, US economics editor, The Economist.

Key takeaways

  • Experts across industry, government, and academia should continue to work together to answer important questions about emerging technologies, including those related to openness, security, ethics and governance.
  • Technology companies should continue to innovate with AI and other new technologies — while also ensuring that everyone can benefit from them.

For more of Google’s perspective on the future of AI, read about how we’re building a shared agenda on responsible AI, and our views on the creative and transformational possibilities of the technology.