Alondra Nelson Named to U.N. High-Level Advisory Body on AI

Alondra Nelson, Harold F. Linder Professor in the School of Social Science, has been named the United States representative to the United Nations High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence. The new AI Advisory Body is a significant step in the U.N. efforts to address issues in the international governance of artificial intelligence. It will foster a globally inclusive approach that brings together experts from government, the private sector, the research community, civil society, and academia.

“For developing economies, AI offers the possibility of leapfrogging outdated technologies and bringing services directly to people who need them most,” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. “The transformative potential of AI for good is difficult even to grasp. And without entering into a host of doomsday scenarios, it is already clear that the malicious use of AI could undermine trust in institutions, weaken social cohesion and threaten democracy itself. For all these reasons, I have called for a global, multidisciplinary, multistakeholder conversation on the governance of AI so that its benefits to humanity —all of humanity—are maximized, and the risks contained and diminished.”

The Body’s immediate tasks include building a global scientific consensus on risks and challenges, helping harness AI for humanity, and strengthening international cooperation on AI governance. The Body will help bridge other existing and emerging initiatives on AI governance, and issue preliminary recommendations by the end of 2023, with final recommendations by summer 2024, ahead of the Summit of the Future. The first meeting of the Body will take place on October 27, 2023.

A science and technology policy advisor who has provided guidance to local, state, and federal governments, legislators, civil society, and others, Nelson will also participate in the upcoming U.K. AI Safety Summit bringing together international governments, AI companies, civil society groups, and experts in research on November 1 and November 2, 2023 at historic Bletchley Park.

From 2021–23, Nelson was deputy assistant to President Joe Biden, and acting director and principal deputy director for science and society of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. During that time, she led the creation of the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights, which considers how AI should be incorporated into our society. Nelson was the first person to serve in the latter role, which brought social science expertise explicitly into the work of federal science and technology strategy and policy.

Nominated to the U.N. AI Advisory Body by the Biden-Harris Administration through the U.S. Department of State, Nelson will serve in her personal capacity.