Generative artificial intelligence has dominated headlines across the world for the past two years. Popular models include OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini and image generators like Midjourney. However, generative AI sits at the intersection of several cross-cutting issues – from data governance and privacy to innovative capacity – that impact businesses, government and society at large. As a result, governments are tackling this challenge from very different directions.

Why are governments so keen to develop generative AI and foundation models? What are governments doing to encourage generative AI? How might that backfire? What controls could be put on the data used to train AI?

To answer these questions and many more, the Emerging Technology Program at the United States Studies Centre was pleased to host Professor Susan Ariel Aaronson, Research Professor from George Washington University and Director of the Digital Trade and Governance Hub. Susan is also co-principal investigator with the NSF-NIST (National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology) Institute for Trustworthy AI in Law & Society, TRAILS, where she leads research on data and AI governance.

Hayley Channer, Director of the Economic Security Program with the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney hosted the discussion. Hayley has a diverse background having worked as an Australian Government official, Ministerial adviser, think tank analyst, and represented global non-profit organisations.

Professor Susan Ariel Aaronson’s trip to Australia was made possible by the generous support of the US Department of State.