Governing the rise of Artificial Intelligence

An online civic debate


The Future Society and bluenove are joining hands to launch and lead, in the next 12 months, a global civic debate on “Governing the rise of AI”. The consultation is open to everyone. It will rely on the award-winning collective intelligence platform “Assembl” and associated methodology developed by bluenove, a pioneer in the field of civic tech. Assembl has already been deployed successfully in several public debates in the past on a host of complex topics including Smart Cities, the rise of inclusive cities, the future of education, the soft power of expatriates and the OECD well-being index.

Led over a period of 12 months by The Future Society “AI Initiative”, the civic consultation will seek to proactively involve citizens, practitioners, world experts, and researchers working on AI, robotics, cyber, public policy, international relations and economics.

Why such debate? And what about the findings?

Improvements and convergences in machine learning and neurosciences combined with the availability of massive datasets and the ubiquity of high-performance scalable computing are propelling us into a new age of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The promise these developments hold is immense; so too are the risks.

Through this civic consultation, The Future Society and bluenove aim to trigger a broad and inclusive dialogue to help better understand the dynamics and consequences of the rise of AI and how to govern this revolution. Other civic debates on questions of governance of emerging technosciences and the future of humanity will follow.

Launched on the occasion of the JFK Jr. Forum event on “AI and Bias: examining the past, present and the future” co-organized by The Future Society and the Harvard Institute of Politics on February 16, 2017, the civic consultation will harness and build upon the various events, workshops and conferences organized by The Future Society throughout the year at Harvard and beyond.


How it works?

The debate takes place on the online platform Assembl developed by bluenove. You just need to create your account to have access to the debate.

The platform works best on Internet Explorer v.10 and +, on Safari v.7 and +, and on Firefox v.24 and +

The debate is managed is by a community of animators:

the Harvester structures and enriches the topics of the debate in accordance with the discussions on the platform. She also extracts the main ideas of the debate.

the Community Manager makes sure of the onboarding of the participants in the debate. She guides the contributors in the platform.

the Knowledge Manager enriches the discussion with the publication of articles, studies and other interesting elements. She is also the fact-checker of the debate.

The Synthesizer writes a summary of the discussion for each subtopic every two weeks. A synthesis of the debate is regularly published on the platform


As exemplified by the rise of AI, our world is undergoing a technological explosion. Echoing J.F. Kennedy’s famous vision, it truly seems that “we stand today on the edge of a new frontier”. Since the turn of the 21st century nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive sciences (NBIC) are converging and changing the elementary building blocks of matter and machines, our bodies and brains, and even our societies and environment.

As our understanding and control over these elements dramatically increases in the coming decades, our societies will be confronted with an array of crucial ethical questions and policy choices. To address these, we need to engineer inclusive and actionable mechanisms of public deliberation at the global level, within and across civilizational boundaries.

This is not an easy task, especially given the profound epistemic crisis that our societies are going through which translates into a deep distrust for science and expertise. But this is becoming an imperative.

And the crisis of expertise should serve as an opportunity to re-draw the boundaries of decision-making processes over complex questions, and to involve citizens at the core of the conversation since most of the choices awaiting them are profoundly political. And the rise of civic tech for instance offers new opportunities to re-engineer the relationship between citizens, experts and representatives. And to create global collective intelligence processes over complex questions with the aim of making sense, identifying common grounds, debating over divergences and ultimately harmonizing techno-policies based on shared systems of values.