Leaders Discuss Future of Artificial Intelligence

Leading figures in the field of artificial intelligence discussed its present and potential future impact on individuals and nations at the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum Friday.

Kennedy School lecturer and national security expert Juliette N. Kayyem introduced the topic by discussing the current prevalence of artificial intelligence and the significant shifts the technology may cause in relations between various groups and industries. She noted the tensions that may arise when trying to find a role for artificial intelligence in everyday life.

Panelists then discussed how artificial intelligence has influenced their particular work and society more generally.

Edward W. Felten, the deputy chief technology officer of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, commented on a recent White House report that explained the challenges faced when trying to incorporate artificial intelligence into the government. In contrast, IBM Watson’s general manager David Kenny described commercial aspects of artificial intelligence and how it can “perform layman jobs enabling humans to conduct more advanced tasks.”

Rosalind W. Picard, a professor at the MIT Media Lab, talked about how machines can learn to identify environments and thereby behave appropriately. Picard further added that artificial intelligence will be able to measure emotion in a classroom and determine the state that is most conducive to learning.


Nico P. H. Miailhe, president of the Future Society and a senior fellow at the Kennedy School, said the mission of his organization is to “question technology and innovation and how to govern them, not regulate them. To manage them and use the Government School as a vehicle to convene the University to carry this conversation forward.”

The Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs partnered with the Future Society at the school to organize the forum.