Tech:NYC Policy Labs: Policymakers and Technologists Talk AI

Last week, we hosted our first Policy Lab, an event bringing together technologists and policymakers to talk about technology and its promises outside of the pressure of pending legislation or regulation. To kick things off, Serkan Piantino, a leading AI expert (and Tech:NYC board member), did something we think has never been done before: actually taught a convened group of NYC elected officials and other policymakers and regulators what AI is, how it works, and what it’s capable of doing. We hosted our inaugural event with member company WeWork, and were lucky to hold the first event in its beautiful new Fulton Center space.

 Tech:NYC board member Serkan Piantino gives a talk on AI entitled "New Capabilities with Neural Nets".

Tech:NYC board member Serkan Piantino gives a talk on AI entitled "New Capabilities with Neural Nets".

The motivation for this Policy Lab was simple: we all know that artificial intelligence is going to impact the way we work, the way we live, and—even potentially—the way societies organize themselves. These changes are going to have real policy implications that will require policymakers to make some tough decisions. Instead of waiting until these questions become completely unavoidable, we thought it made sense to teach policymakers about the technology so that they could start to think about those questions now.

After Serkan’s talk, a group of companies developing the next generation of AI technologies here in NYC demoed their products for our guests. Those companies were Entrupy, FinCheck, Hyperscience, IBM Watson, and Shutterstock.

 The room was full of representatives from nearly 20 city and state agencies.

The room was full of representatives from nearly 20 city and state agencies.

Miguel Gamiño, the city's new Chief Technology Officer, offered remarks. He was joined at the event by a broad array of elected officials and policymakers including NYC Council Members Mark Levine and David Greenfield, NYC CDO Sree Sreenivasan, and representatives from nearly 20 other city and state agencies and elected offices.

Going forward, we’ll be hosting Policy Labs on an ongoing basis, each focused on a different technology area. Have an idea for what type of technology we should focus on? Let us know. And stay tuned: later this year, we’ll be taking the show on the road to Albany.