Announcing the AI Governance Project Phase

By Luke Drago (Published on May 24, 2024)

Summary

  • The Project Phase is an opportunity to start contributing to AI Governance 
  • Before session 8, you’ll develop your project idea, and you’ll get feedback from your peers and facilitator in session 8 
  • From sessions 9-12, you’ll work on your project 
  • You’ll submit your project by 22 July

Intro

As we conclude the learning phase of the AI Governance course, you’ll transition into the Project Phase. This is an opportunity to build or do something new, and it will enable you to: 

  • Apply the knowledge you’ve gained from the course thus far
  • Develop your portfolio to help you land new opportunities
  • Make a genuinely valuable contribution to the field
  • Take your next steps in AI governance
  • Have fun working on something impactful and interesting!

What to expect

Before session 8, you’ll brainstorm project ideas and select one to discuss with your peers during session 8. The prompts in the exercises will help you develop this idea, and you can review our upcoming list of ideas for inspiration. In the session, your cohort will help you improve your idea.

Between sessions 8 and 9, you should:

  • Submit the project details form. After your session 8 discussion, we'll send you a form to collect basic details about your project idea. Fill this out so we can offer guidance and feedback about your idea.

From session 9 to session 12 you will:

  • Work on your project. 
  • Meet weekly with your project phase cohort. Unlike the taught content sessions, where the bulk of learning is done during the meetings, the Project Phase is focused on work done independently. There are minimal readings and preparation, and sessions will be much shorter (30 minutes to 1 hour), focused on feedback from your peers and facilitator. 

After session 12, you will:

  • Submit your project by 22 July. Put the final touches on your project, and submit it. Your project should have an output that you can share with others. You should produce some product as a result of your project. This might be the project itself, a blog post or YouTube video explaining your project, or something else entirely. 
  • Publish your project. We’d be excited for you to share your project on your LinkedIn, personal website, or other platform. We recommend attaching your name to it, but you’re welcome to publish your work anonymously or under a pseudonym. 
  • Attend the course closing event. You’ll discuss your work in small breakouts with other participants. Finally, we’ll announce the winners of the project competition, award prizes, and close out the course.

How do I make the most out of the Project Phase?

Start with a narrow project scope.

Write out one (just one!) primary deliverable for your project. This will help you to stay laser-focused on scoping and completing your project, as well as make it more likely to deliver something successful. A good question to ask yourself is “could I make this simpler?”. You can always expand the scope of your project later if you do complete it quickly!

Just do it!

In our experience, the best projects happen when you focus on a concrete, narrow idea and iterate quickly. A common failure mode is to spend four weeks planning and researching what to do. If in doubt, take action! 

Try to create an executable outline by session 9. Then ask for specific feedback from:

  • Your project cohort
  • The AISF Slack workspace
  • People you know in your target audience
  • People you trust

You’ll learn a lot more from the project by creating multiple versions and iterating, rather than trying to create one perfect version.

Commit to one idea

There are loads of exciting projects you could work on! The key is picking one and sticking to it. Although it is tempting to try out many things, you won’t have enough time to do multiple ideas well. You will get more out of the experience by focusing on just one path. If you do want to pursue multiple ideas, consider picking one to do in this Project Phase, and doing others after the course.

If your rapid tests between sessions 8 and 9 raise a significant blocker to your project, you should consider pivoting. However, we strongly discourage major pivots after session 9. If you hit a project blocker after this point (but your rapid tests indicated it was plausible), there is still something interesting in this: an analysis of why something might be harder than it looks would still be a useful result.

Carve out the time to work on your project

Although the discussion sessions serve as a space for accountability, you’re much more likely to put the time into working on the project if you carve out space in your calendar to put your head down. If it suits your style, you could even have co-working sessions with your cohort or others on the course!

Similar to how you have better discussions when you’ve prepared for the sessions, you’ll get better feedback and learn more when you’ve put time into your project. Consistency will bring you far with your project, even if it’s just a few hours a week.

Ask for help

Doing novel work is difficult! Throughout the Project Phase, you should leverage your facilitator and peers for support (such as in your cohort channel or #dumb-questions-encouraged). Remember that we’re all here because we want to learn: the bar for asking for help should be very low.

FAQs

Why do we do projects?

The core governance curriculum is an overview of the AI governance landscape. Projects empower you to become a subject matter expert on a narrow, vertical slice of the field. You'll sharpen your skills and produce something useful. 

We think projects are the most rewarding part of the AI governance course. You get to demonstrate your knowledge on a specific topic. Moreover, projects ensure you have a tangible product at the end of the course. There’s a lot you can do with that product. Past projects have helped learners get jobs in the field, find new opportunities, and launch new initiatives. 

What should I do for my project?

You can read our blog post on project ideas, review past Governance projects and view ideas for Alignment projects. Please note that in this iteration, we are discouraging learners from focusing their project on planning their next career move. 

Tentative ideas include conducting research on an open governance question, generating new ideas or proposals for today’s AI systems, evaluating existing proposals and governance actions based on defined criteria, or predicting future policy needs that might arise from advanced AI systems. The best project ideas will be narrowly tailored, novel, and based on your strengths and curiosities. Your project idea should be something that you’d be excited and motivated to work on for four weeks.

Can I work on a project with someone else?

Yes, as long as everyone in the group is contributing and learning during the project. However, we expect most participants to do projects independently.

If you have already agreed to work on a project with someone else, please indicate this in the project details form that we send around the time of session 8 so we can put you in the same cohort!

Will I be in the same cohort?

By default, everyone will remain in the same cohort unless your cohort is disbanded or you choose to switch to another cohort.

Are there prizes?

The best projects will receive a prize! We’ll share more information about this soon.

Is it okay to work on a project that I have already started? (e.g. before the course start)

We encourage participants to pursue new ideas. We may make an exception for an existing project if it meets the same bar for relevance as any other project and will produce a deliverable to submit after session 12.

Facilitators: what should I know?

Very little should change for facilitators. You’ll continue to meet in your existing cohorts.

Lead cohorts: what changes for us?

If you’re in a lead cohort, you’ll take a week-long break between session 7 and session 8. We’ll update your calendar invitations to reflect this. This is so we can sync all cohorts on the same timeline for projects. Every cohort will begin session 8 on the week of June 2nd.

I have a different question

Feel free to ask in your session 8 discussion, or in #governance-apr24-logistics-questions.

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