Institute Director Francesco Lapenta Invited to Harvard AIWS Award for UN Tech Envoy Amandeep Gill

Francesco Lapenta, Director of the Institute of Future and Innovation Studies, was recently invited to Harvard University by the Boston Global Forum to honor Amandeep Gill, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology with the World Leader in AI World Society Award. The event was hosted by Tuan Nguyen (CEO), Prof. Thomas Patterson and former governor Michael Dukakis of the Boston Global Forum.

Francesco Lapenta

Francesco Lapenta

Amandeep Gill joined the Indian foreign service in 1992, serving with distinction in Iran, Sri Lanka, and Switzerland before being appointed Head of the Disarmament and International Security Affairs Division of India’s Ministry of External Affairs in 2013. Four years later, he was appointed India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. In 2017, Ambassador Gill helped establish India’s National Task Force on Artificial Intelligence and subsequently contributed to the drafting of UNESCO’s Al ethics guidelines. His entry into the UN came as Executive Director of the Secretariat of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, which led to his appointment as UN Tech Envoy.

Ambassador Gill’s presentation provided a vivid and compelling picture of the world’s obstacles to a more equitable global digital society. The participants were struck by a sense of urgency and the need to act.

The award was presented as part of a two-day event with prominent speakers who, with Ambassador Gill, offered a nuanced overview of contemporary geopolitics. The sessions and personal talks outside of the program were equally informative.

Director Lapenta contributed to the opening panel called the “UN’s Global Digital Compact and Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, fostering an Age of Global Enlightenment” with Cameron Kerry (former acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce), Nazli Choucri (MIT), and Zlatko Lagumdzija (former Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina), who joined from remote.

Secretary Kerry offered a nuanced and strong argument for the necessity of international cooperation supported by the necessary quest for peace and global standards to be achieved in cooperation and dialogue. He specifically focused on the necessity of establishing tech diplomacy efforts to guarantee safeguards and global standards to balance the risks and opportunities of developing AI applications.

Former Prime Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija stated that “creating an Age of Global Enlightenment vision has to be based on peace, dignity, equality and sustainable development on a healthy planet on a road to fulfilling SDGs while protecting the standards and human values encapsulated in Universal Declaration Human Rights adopted by UN General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948.”

Director Lapenta contributed to the discussions by elaborating on the need to integrate scientific and humanistic perspectives in all scientific academic curricula, the need for the development of a new ethical perspective in all forms of technological innovation in general, and AI in particular, and the need for all countries to work together to regulate the risks and opportunities presented by the evolution and development of AI applications.

Below is the full list of participants in the two-day event.

Ramu Damodaran, UN Academic Impact
Mats Karlsson, former Vice President of the World Bank
Joan Donovan, MIT
Lana Cook, MIT
Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland, MIT
Jeff Saviano, EY
Nobue Mita, BGF representative in Japan
Quynh Nham, Assistant to BGF’s
Yasukazu Hamada, Japanese Minister of Defense
Shinsuke Sugiyama, former Japanese Ambassador to the USA
Nobukatsu Kanehara, Doshisha University
Koichi Hamada, Yale University and University of Tokyo
Tomohiko Taniguchi, Keio University and former advisor to PM Shinzo Abe
Bonji Ohara, Senior Fellow from Sasakawa Peace Foundation
Shunji Yanai, Judge from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, former Japanese Ambassador to the USA
Yasuhide Nakayama, former Japanese State Minister for Defense
Nobue Mita, BGF representative in Japan
Quynh Nham, Assistant to BGF