After serving as the Berkman Klein Center’s executive director for twelve wonderful years and living abroad for almost twenty years, it is time for me to embark on the next chapter, which will bring me back to Europe and closer to my family. I’m deeply grateful to the BKC faculty, staff, fellows, and community who make BKC such a unique space to learn, explore, and build towards a better and more equitable digital world.

Serving BKC over so many years in different roles — starting as a teaching assistant to my brilliant colleague and friend John Palfrey back in 2002…

Shared at the Launch Event of Colombia’s AI Ethics Framework

I had the honor of participating in Lanzamiento de la Ética de la Inteligencia Artifical en Colombia (“Launch of Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in Colombia”) on November 25, 2020, alongside Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez. My remarks highlight the different roles governments can (and should) play in promoting trustworthy AI. The reflections are informed by the Berkman Klein Center’s work on the ethics and governance of AI as well as ongoing learnings in the context of BKC’s Policy Practice on AI, in addition to the great and vast literature on trust, technology, and law.

Here is the transcript of my…

Introduction to and Core Themes of a COVID-19 Essay Collection

Together with Jens Drolshammer, we just published a collection of essays as part of a transatlantic collaboration during the COVID-19 “shelter in place” period from March 16th to June 30th, 2020. The collection, written in German, is an experiment in real-time observation and reflection. The essays take a first look at the new realities at the intersection of pandemic risk, law, and digitization.

The observations build upon our long-standing interest in how the law — and lawyers — deal with “catastrophic risks”. …

in collaboration with Melyssa Eigen, J.D. Candidate at Harvard Law School

This essay is part of a collection written by members of the Berkman Klein Center’s Working Group on Digital Pandemic Response. The group, made up of experts from academia, civil society, the public sector, and industry, takes on difficult questions around the use of digital tools and data to help attenuate the COVID-19 pandemic. Each essay is the perspective of the author, not of the Berkman Klein Center.

“Trust” has emerged as a key enabler when it comes to the effectiveness of different forms of pandemic responses, including the…

Technical discussions should pay attention to public health experiences, legal frameworks, and ethical principles

Translation of our op-ed published today in Neue Zürcher Zeitung

by Kerstin Noëlle Vokinger & Urs Gasser

Digital technologies and data play historically a unique role in dealing with COVID-19. Various types of digital applications in the fight against the pandemic are being tested and deployed around the globe. Thereby, countries are taking different approaches, both technologically and in terms of (personal) responsibility and empowerment of citizens, to manage the global crisis.

Digital “contact tracing” takes center stage in many countries. Epidemiologically, the aim is to detect and interrupt chains of the infection at an early stage. Apps are used…

by Urs Gasser & Carolyn Schmitt

It is hard to keep up with the various efforts underway that develop ethical principles and other norms aimed at governing a broad range of AI-based technologies (we use the shortcut “AI” for readability only). Current initiatives involve governments, international organizations, standard setting organizations, tech companies, and civil society organizations, to name just some of the drivers. In addition to the development of ethical norms and governance principles, the quest for adequate accountability schemes and enforcement mechanisms continues — with mixed success and serious complications, as the recent cancellation of Google’s external AI Ethics…

Do you trust Artificial Intelligence? “Not yet,” was the overwhelming response to an informal survey conducted among a small and non-representative, but rather diverse group of experts who were invited by the Digital Asia Hub to engage in a global roundtable discussion about AI and Trust during an official side event of the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Hong Kong.

The question of trust in AI is of course timely: We are witnessing a wave of AI-based technologies that make their way out of the labs into industry- and user-facing applications, and we know from history…

Early in my academic life, as a doctoral student at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland and influenced by the St. Gallen School of Information Law developed by Jean Nicolas Druey and Herbert Burkert in the late ’90s and early 2000, I began studying an issue that has received baseline attention in Europe since the World Wars, and more recently takes center stage in the intense US debates about the state and future trajectory of the digital information and media ecosystem: the concept of information quality (“IQ”). …

While there is reasonable hope that superhuman killer robots won’t catch us anytime soon, narrower types of AI-based technologies have started changing our daily lives: AI applications are rolled out at an accelerated pace in schools, homes, and hospitals, with digital leaders such as high tech, telecom, and financial services among the early adopters. AI promises enormous benefits for the social good and can improve human well-being, safety, and productivity, as anecdotal evidence suggests. …

Earlier this week, the Berkman Klein Center in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab hosted an AI Advance, a community event to kick off our collaboration as part of the recently launched Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence initiative (learn more about our current work plan here). In a fascinating and diverse series of lightning talks, faculty, fellows, students, and staff from both Centers presented their ongoing work and addressed major research questions around AI and related technologies. A few highlights are available here, here, and here (more to come soon).

In the latter part of the event, participants engaged…

Urs Gasser

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