past event

Talk Better About Artificial Intelligence

How to Have Informed & Productive Conversations

The discourse on artificial intelligence (AI) is riddled with breathless hype on the one hand and apocalyptic predictions on the other.

Journalists, civil society leaders, and public policymakers are all trusted messengers who shape our understanding of emergent and timely topics, like artificial intelligence. Yet many don’t know where to start. We need to develop a shared understanding of these headline-grabbing technologies so that everyone can jump into the conversation feeling informed, emboldened, and included.

On December 5, we brought together leaders from journalism, education, government, and philanthropy, to share how they talk about artificial intelligence in their work. The session covered smart practices for communication about AI both inside your organization and out in public. How can we navigate ambiguity amid changing technologies? What are common sources of confusion, and where can people go for clarity?






Victoria Houed
Director of AI Policy and Strategy, U.S. Department of Commerce

Victoria is an engineer turned policy entrepreneur who has dedicated her career to improving the tech policy ecosystem and the modernization of government. In 2023, she joined the U.S. Department of Commerce as Director of AI Policy and Strategy.

Victoria was previously a Manager at Schmidt Futures where she funded key science and technology policy initiatives and educated relevant stakeholders on how to best advocate for their policy ideas in the legislative and executive branch. Previously, Victoria worked for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a TechCongress Congressional Innovation Fellow supporting the Speaker on all things tech, including internet accessibility, data privacy, antitrust, disinformation, Section 230, and autonomous vehicles. Before her time in Congress, Victoria worked as a Software Engineer and Product Manager at Cards Against Humanity, founded a non-profit for Black Women in Technology called BlackByte, helped lead the tech team of a mayoral campaign, and enjoyed working on different engineering projects for artists around her hometown of Chicago.

Victoria holds her B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University, where she focused on nanotechnology and systems engineering.

Alex Kotran
Chief Executive Officer, AI Education Project

Alex oversees strategy, partnerships, fundraising, and external relations for the AI Education Project. Prior to founding the AI Education Project, Alex built the AI Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility function for H5, Inc., a pioneering AI company in the legal services sector. At H5, Alex led strategic partnerships with organizations including the United Nations, NYU School of Law, the OECD, and IEEE to develop judicial education programs and high profile convenings. Prior to his time in the social impact and non-profit space, Alex managed brand and policy communications for companies including Oracle, Airbnb, Nissan, HP, Adobe, and SAP. He was a lead Field Organizer in Columbus, OH for the 2012 Obama Campaign and served as a Presidential Appointee under HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, where he managed communications and community outreach for ACA Open Enrollment, two SCOTUS rulings, and the 2015 Ebola outbreak.

Clarence Wardell III
Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Dr. Clarence Wardell III is a changemaker committed to harnessing the power of technology, data, and evidence to create positive social impact and achieve more equitable societal outcomes. He is a Senior Program Officer on the Economic Mobility and Opportunity team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he leads the team’s efforts to foster innovation to improve economic outcomes for individuals in the U.S. with low incomes. Before joining the foundation, Clarence served in several senior roles in the Biden-Harris Administration and on the transition team.

Clarence has also previously served in roles at Results for America, CNA Corporation, and in the Obama Administration. Throughout his career, Clarence has been actively involved in various organizations focused on economic opportunity and criminal justice reform as a board member and advisor. He holds a B.S.E. in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Sisi Wei
Editor-in-Chief, The Markup

Sisi Wei is the editor-in-chief at The Markup, a nonprofit investigative newsroom that challenges technology to serve the public good.

Before joining The Markup, she was co-executive director of OpenNews, where she envisioned and executed transformative initiatives for journalism. As part of her work, Sisi founded the DEI Coalition, a journalism community dedicated to sharing knowledge and taking concrete action in service of a more anti-racist, equitable, and just journalism industry.

She was assistant managing editor at ProPublica from 2018 to 2020, where she oversaw three editorial teams focused on news apps, interactive storytelling, and visual investigations. She also managed large, interdisciplinary investigations across the newsroom, one of which won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2020. Sisi worked at ProPublica for seven years, investigating abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust across a range of topics, including health care, higher education, government, and immigration.

Sisi also serves on the board of News Revenue Hub and The Open Notebook.


B Cavello
Director of Emerging Technologies, Aspen Digital
Eleanor Tursman
Emerging Technologies Researcher, Aspen Digital

This work is made possible thanks to support from Siegel Family Endowment.

Event information
Tue Dec 5, 2023
12:00pm - 2:00pm EDT