IGF 2019 WS #138 Digital sustainable development as a policy framework for AI

Organizer 1: Aleksander Tarkowski, Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation
Organizer 2: Piotr Marczuk, Microsoft
Organizer 3: Natalia Mileszyk, Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation

Speaker 1: Natalia Mileszyk, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 2: Piotr Mieczkowski, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 3: Nanna-Louise Wildfang Linde, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

How to shape digital policy and regulation to ensure that impact of AI technologies is advantageous to as broad a range of citizens as possible?
How to shape digital growth policy to support not just market or business growth, but also provide broader social and economic benefits?
How to provide a balance between self-regulation of the AI industry (for example ethics standards) and regulatory measures?
How to shape digital policies in states other than early adopters of AI technologies, and what should be the role of public administrations of such states in supporting sustainable ecosystems of digital technologies?

Relevance to Theme: One of the most pressing questions of internet governance nowadays is how to regulate technology, especially AI. We believe that the concept of sustainability provides a high-level framework for proper management of both AI growth, and of data databases that are the necessary condition for AI development. By thinking about sustainability, we establish principles and recommendations that are society-centric: ensuring not just business growth but also broader, positive social and economic outcomes.

We have been exploring the significance of the concept of digital inclusion for shaping the growth of AI technologies through a series of policy roundtables titled “Digital Sustainability Forum” . These have been organized in Poland, since late 2018, by a coalition consisting of Digital Poland foundation, Centrum Cyfrowe foundation and Microsoft. We believe that this framework can in particular be employed by states like Poland, that are not early adopters of AI technologies. These states face different challenges than AI leaders, for example related to changes to the job market, availability of data sources or digital inclusion of societies.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The digital sustainability framework can be employed bo policymakers and key stakeholders to develop frameworks for the growth of AI tech and industry (or other digital technologies) in a manner that provides balanced and advantageous technological growth. It is a framework that we have been developing by design to support a multi-stakeholder approach, based on an ecosystem model that engages multiple actors in the process of governance.

Initially, we applied the digital sustainability framework to policies related to AI, as a key technology shaping the digital sphere. The concept of digital sustainability has been developed in Poland, at the phase when national AI strategy was being developed. We believe that this concept is of particular use to states and societies that are not early adopters of AI technologies, and face the challenge of not just developing the AI sector, but mitigating potential negative effects of technological growth.

The concept is applicable also to other aspects and focus areas of Internet governance. In the next phase, we will be applying it to the issue of cybersecurity, for example.


Round Table - Circle - 60 Min

Description: The session will have a roundtable format. We will begin with Initial remarks by invited speakers, who will present the concept of digital sustainability and constituent elements of policies based on this concept. These presentations (lasting approximately 20 minutes) will be followed by a “tour de table” round of comments that will allow participants to respond to the concept of “digital sustainability”. In order to obtain the maximum number of perspectives and contributions, we plan to limit debate during the roundtable - suggesting that any responses will be shared afterwards. We will finish the roundtable with a round of short remarks focus on specific policy recommendations. Finally, the session will end with a short summary by the rapporteur.

During introductory remarks, speakers will present the outcomes of policy roundtables organised in Poland, during which initial principles and recommendations for a digital sustainability of AI growth have been established. We will briefly address core elements of such a policy frame, including balance between self-regulation and regulation, approaches to data governance, educational and job market policies.

We expect that other participants in the roundtable will provide substantive feedback on the key policy design decisions related to the concept of sustainable digital growth. We also hope to learn, to what extent our policy framework can be employed in other states working on AI policies.

Expected Outcomes: We expect following outcomes from our session:
Feedback on modifications and improvements of the digital sustainability policy frame and its key principles, as it relates to the growth of AI (and related, emergent technologies)
Feedback on specific recommendations that should be included in the concept of digital sustainability
Feedback on the applicability of this policy frame in different states working on AI strategies
We plan to share the outcomes of the session in the form of a policy brief that will constitute an addendum to policy documents that have already been developed through the “Digital Sustainability Forum”. The brief will be published online and promoted by partner organisations.

Onsite Moderator: 

Aleksander Tarkowski, Civil Society, Eastern European Group

Online Moderator: 

Piotr Marczuk, Private Sector, Eastern European Group


Natalia Mileszyk, Civil Society, Eastern European Group

Discussion Facilitation: 

We have chosen the roundtable format in order to allow as many participants as possible to take part in the discussion. The Onsite Moderator will enforce a strict time limit of 3 minutes, requesting participants to provide brief and focused statements. For the same reason, we will not provide time for dicussion - our goal is to surface the broadest possible range of views on the issues.

Online Participation: 

We will make sure that statements and feedback from online participants will receive equal attention as on-site interventions. Our Online Moderator will work with the Onsite Moderator to ensure that the online voices are represented throughout the session. Additionally, we will promote the session beforehand through social media (Twitter in particular) and aim to solicit responses to main questions also through these channel. These will be shared during the session as well.

Proposed Additional Tools: We will use Twitter as a seconday channel for online communication and promotion of the session.


GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 12: Responsible Production and Consumption