The Challenges of Policy in an Era of Fulcrum Technologies

July 2, 2024

Illustration of AI and sustainability.

In a new article for War on the RocksElliott School Associate Professor Nina Kelsey examines the challenging policy environment around fulcrum technologies. Professor Kelsey and her co-author Melissa K. Griffith define those technologies as, "...simultaneously critical to American security, prosperity, and environmental sustainability." These technologies create policymaking problems because, "...existing U.S. policy approaches are not well adapted to dynamically balancing three critical imperatives at once."

As Kelsey and Griffith explain: "We can think of this like children playing on a three-way seesaw. The typical seesaw only has two sides, which simply requires balancing two opposing forces across a pivot point, or fulcrum. For a three-sided seesaw, the task becomes more complex. If they don’t position themselves well collectively, the seesaw will begin to tumble off its fulcrum, ejecting children onto the sand. While the consequences of playground misadventures are limited to tantrums and scraped knees, the national stakes for getting fulcrum technology policy wrong are far higher." They argue, "Effective policy in this space will require unprecedented creative coordination between domestic and international stakeholders, from government to private industry. This includes breaking down silos, streamlining policy processes, adequately staffing policy bodies, and proactively identifying nascent fulcrum technologies as early as possible."

Interested in learning more? Check our the full article.