Jan 12 • 1HR 41M

Suresh Venkatasubramanian: An AI Bill of Rights

On the algorithmic lens, legislating AI, and making policy as a technologist

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daniel bashir
Interviews with various people who research, build, or use AI, including academics, engineers, artists, entrepreneurs, and more.
Episode details

In episode 55 of The Gradient Podcast, Daniel Bashir speaks to Professor Suresh Venkatasubramanian.

Professor Venkatasubramanian is a Professor of Computer Science and Data Science at Brown University, where his research focuses on algorithmic fairness and the impact of automated decision-making systems in society. He recently served as Assistant Director for Science and Justice in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he co-authored the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights.

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  • (00:00) Intro

  • (02:25) Suresh’s journey into AI and policymaking

  • (08:00) The complex graph of designing and deploying “fair” AI systems

  • (09:50) The Algorithmic Lens

  • (14:55) “Getting people into a room” isn’t enough

    • (16:30) Failures of incorporation

  • (21:10) Trans-disciplinary vs interdisciplinary, the limiting nature of “my lane” / “your lane” thinking, going beyond existing scientific and philosophical ideas

  • (24:50) The trolley problem is annoying, its usefulness and limitations

    • (25:30) Breaking the frame of a discussion, self-driving doesn’t fit into the parameters of the trolley problem

  • (28:00) Acknowledging frames and their limitations

  • (29:30) Social science’s inclination to critique, flaws and benefits of solutionism

  • (30:30) Computer security as a model for thinking about algorithmic protections, the risk of failure in policy

  • (33:20) Suresh’s work on recourse

  • (38:00) Kantian autonomy and the value of recourse, non-Western takes and issues with individual benefit/harm as the most morally salient question

    • (41:00) Community as a valuable entity and its implications for algorithmic governance, surveillance systems

  • (43:50) How Suresh got involved in policymaking / the OSTP

  • (46:50) Gathering insights for the AI Bill of Rights Blueprint

  • (51:00) One thing the Bill did miss… Struggles with balancing specificity and vagueness in the Bill

  • (54:20) Should “automated system” be defined in legislation? Suresh’s approach and issues with the EU AI Act

    • (57:45) The danger of definitions, overlap with chess world controversies

    • (59:10) Constructive vagueness in law, partially theorized agreements

  • (1:02:15) Digital privacy and privacy fundamentalism, focus on breach of individual autonomy as the only harm vector

  • (1:07:40) GDPR traps, the “legacy problem” with large companies and post-hoc regulation

  • (1:09:30) Considerations for legislating explainability

  • (1:12:10) Criticisms of the Blueprint and Suresh’s responses

  • (1:25:55) The global picture, AI legislation outside the US, legislation as experiment

  • (1:32:00) Tensions in entering policy as an academic and technologist

  • (1:35:00) Technologists need to learn additional skills to impact policy

  • (1:38:15) Suresh’s advice for technologists interested in public policy

  • (1:41:20) Outro