AI Governance Course

12 week online course, covering a range of policy levers for steering AI development.
Course
Course

In 2023, ChatGPT became the fastest ever product to gain 100 million users. Its release and adoption marks the rapidly increasing capabilities of artificial intelligence systems.

The rise of any powerful technology demands a thoughtful approach to its governance and regulation. There has been increasing interest in how AI governance can and should mitigate extreme risks from AI, but it can be difficult to get up to speed on research and ideas in this area.

By taking this course, you’ll learn about the risks arising from future AI systems, and proposed governance interventions to address them. You’ll consider interactions between AI and biosecurity, cybersecurity and defence capabilities, and the disempowerment of human decision-makers. We’ll also provide an overview of open technical questions such as the control and alignment problems – which posit that AI itself could pose a risk to humanity.

You’ll also join thousands of course graduates in the AI Safety Fundamentals Community. This a space to evaluate and debate these ideas with others, and grow your network to foster future opportunities in AI governance.

The course is run by BlueDot Impact – a non-profit that supports people to develop the knowledge, skills and connections they need to pursue a high-impact career.

Why do the course

You’ll learn about key ideas from a widely recommended curriculum. It is difficult to know where to start when trying to learn about AI Governance for the first time. The programme will give you the structure and accountability you need to explore the key features of AI and solutions that have been put forward so far, and give you a framework to evaluate future governance interventions.

Your learning is facilitated by experts. Your facilitator will help you navigate the course content, develop your own views on each topic, and foster constructive debate between you and fellow participants.

You’ll be learning alongside others. Your cohort will be made up of people who are similarly new to AI safety, but who will bring a wealth of different expertise and perspectives to your discussions. Many participants form long-lasting and meaningful connections, that support them to take their first steps in the field.

You’ll be supported to take your next steps. This could involve doing further work on your end-of-course project, applying for programmes and jobs, or doing further independent study. We maintain relationships with a large network of organisations and will share opportunities with you. Additionally, with your permission, we can help make connections between you and recruiters at top organisations.

You’ll join 2000+ course alumni. We’ve helped thousands of people learn via our AI Safety Fundamentals courses. You’ll gain access to this network, and to many others who join in future rounds of the course.

Who this course is for

We think this course will particularly be able to help you if:

  • You are a policymaker, who works on AI or AI-adjacent issues or is keen to in future.
  • You work as a policy researcher at a policy institute or in academia, on AI or AI-adjacent topics.
  • You have a technical background, and want to use your skills to contribute to AI governance work.

We expect at least 25% of the accepted participants will not fit any of these descriptions, so we still encourage you to apply if none of those resonate with you. The research field needs people from a range of backgrounds and disciplines, and we can’t capture all of them in this list.

What this course is not

This course might not be right for you if you are looking for:

  • A course that teaches you how to deploy AI safely in your business. Instead, this course is for people working in governments, think tanks, academia, AI tech companies, or similar organisations, conducting research on and deciding policies that improve AI safety.
  • A course to teach you general programming, machine learning or AI skills. Our resources page lists a number of courses and textbooks that can help with this. Note that these skills are not required to take our AI governance course.
  • A course for people with a technical background to learn about research agendas for aligning AI systems with intended goals. Our AI Alignment course is likely a much better match.

Course Structure

The course comprises 8 weeks of reading and small-group discussions, followed by a 4-week capstone project. The time commitment is around 5 hours per week, so you can engage with the course alongside full-time work or study.

Weeks 1-8 – Taught Content

This is where you’ll work through the main course curriculum, designed with AI governance experts at the University of Cambridge and the Centre for the Governance of AI.

Each week involves 2-3 hours of readings and independent exercises, plus a 2-hour live session (via video call, which we’ll arrange at a time that suits you).

The live sessions are where you work through activities with your cohort of around 5 other participants. These sessions are facilitated by experts in AI governance, who can help you navigate the field and answer questions.

If accepted onto the course, we’ll ask for your availability so we can find a time slot that suits you (including evening or weekend sessions). There’s flexibility to change sessions in case your availability changes.

Compared to studying the curriculum independently, participants tell us they really value the live cohort sessions as the facilitator helps create an engaging discussion space, the activities are designed to enable effective learning, and you develop deep relationships with highly motivated peers.

After finishing the taught content phase you’ll receive a certificate of completion.

Weeks 8-12 – Project Sprint

The project stage is an opportunity for you to put the knowledge and skills you’ve gained during the first 8 weeks into practice. Previously, top projects have led people to connect with relevant policy teams in national governments, or directly influence government policy.

It’s up to you what idea you’d like to work on. In case you want suggestions, we’ll have a list of projects that we think would be valuable based on our experience and connections with field experts.

Once you’ve got your idea, we’ll introduce you to a cohort of people working on similar projects. You’ll work on your project independently, and can put as much time as you’d like into it. Each week you’ll review your progress and receive feedback in 1-2 hour facilitated online discussions with your cohort.

At the end of the project stage, you’ll share your project with other people on the course. And of course, you’ll be able to talk about your experience completing this project when applying for future opportunities.

After submitting a project, you’ll receive a certificate of completion.

Dates

The expected dates for the next iterations of the course are:

Early 2024 course:

  • Applications close: 20 March 2024
  • Application decisions made by: 27 March 2024
  • Course starts: 4 April 2024
  • Course ends: 14 July 2024

Mid 2024 course:

  • Applications close: 28 July 2024
  • Application decisions made by: 6 August 2024
  • Course starts: 19 August 2024
  • Course ends: 11 November 2024

These dates are our current best estimates as to when we will be running the courses, and are subject to change.

We expect to run a version of the course roughly every 3-4 months.

Application process

Apply through our online application form, and you should receive an email confirmation a few minutes after you send your application.

We make most application decisions within 1-2 weeks after the application deadline closes. Do keep an eye on your emails during this time, as if accepted we’ll need you to confirm your place. All legitimate emails regarding the course will come from @bluedot.org.

If you have any questions about applying for the course, do contact us.

 

Application tips

We find that 4 mistakes account for 92% of rejected applications to our course. We’ve written about what these are, plus how to avoid them.

We also have some general practical tips to increase your chance of being accepted:

  • When talking about projects you’ve been involved with, explain your specific contributions to those projects.
  • If providing a link to your CV, make sure it can be accessed publicly. Opening the link in an Incognito or Private Browsing window is a good way to test this. It’s also often helpful to give us a summary of the highlights we should get from it in your application itself.
  • Before you hit ‘Submit’, review your responses to check they answer the questions asked. Additionally, make sure your email address is correct!

Requirements

  • Availability 5+ hours per week to study AI governance
  • A reliable internet connection and webcam (built-in is fine) to join video calls
  • English language skills sufficient to constructively engage in live sessions on AI governance

Optional payment

There is no mandatory payment for this course. If you would like to, you will have the option at the end of the course to pay an amount that you are comfortable with and that you feel reflects the value that the course has brought to you.

BlueDot Impact Ltd, the organisation that runs this course, is a non-profit based in the UK and is entirely philanthropically funded. This course costs us roughly £600 per participant to run, and any payment you make would be used to subsidise places for future participants on our courses.

Running independent versions of the course

Friends, workplace groups, student societies and other local organisations are welcome to run versions of our courses. Provided you follow our guidance, you can use the public curriculum and these session plans.

Any other questions?

If you’re not sure whether to apply, we recommend that you put in an application. If you have any other questions do contact us!

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Endorsements & testimonials

Matthew Bradbury
Senior AI Risk Analyst in the UK Government
This course was the first step in my career in AI safety. The BlueDot course allowed me to bridge the gap between my previous career as an economist to now working in the UK Government AI Directorate. The course provided me with a great introduction to the field, and allowed me to meet some great people with whom I am still friends. I'd recommend this course to anyone!
Matthew Bradbury
Senior AI Risk Analyst in the UK Government
Michael Aird
Advisor at the Institute for AI Policy and Strategy
This is probably the best public reading list on AI Governance. It is the public list I most often recommend for learning about AI governance, including to new staff on my research team.
Michael Aird
Advisor at the Institute for AI Policy and Strategy
Alexandra Souly
Technical Staff at the UK AI Safety Institute
Thanks to this course, I became seriously interested in pursuing AI Safety, which prompted a career change. With the knowledge I gained from the course, I secured funding that allowed me to quit my job and return to university to upskill in AI. Through the community, I discovered other opportunities to learn about and contribute to AI safety, such as participating in MLAB and securing an internship at CHAI.
Alexandra Souly
Technical Staff at the UK AI Safety Institute

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