Generative AI, Free Speech, & Public Discourse

Generative AI, Free Speech, & Public Discourse

A symposium exploring technological and philosophical questions about generative AI’s effect on public discourse

Columbia University and Online

While the technology underlying generative AI has been decades in the making, to the public, the introduction of ChatGPT, Dall-E, and similar tools feels like a seismic shift in the relationship between humans and technology, especially technology used for expressive purposes. The emergence of generative AI models has been accompanied by predictions of dire harms, including a fresh deluge of disinformation, threats to free elections, and other attacks aimed at destabilizing democracies.

This symposium will bring together leading scholars and practitioners in computer science, law, communications, and policy to debate some of the biggest questions machine-learning tools raise for the future of public discourse, free expression, and democracy.

The symposium will take place in person at The Forum at Columbia University and online. RSVP to learn more. (Please note that once we’ve reached venue capacity, we will be unable to admit more in-person registrants. Early arrival on the day of the event is encouraged to secure entry.)

Co-sponsored by Columbia Engineering and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.


  • The Forum at Columbia University

    605 W 125th St, New York, NY 10027


    Welcome and keynotes


    • Shih-Fu Chang, Columbia Engineering
    • Jameel Jaffer, Knight Institute

    Keynote 1A: Opening Up the Language Model Black Box

    • Tatsunori B. HashimotoStanford University

    Keynote 1B: Challenges for Conversational AI in the Era of LLM

    • Dilek Hakkani-Tür, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


    Panel 1: Empirical and Technological Questions: Current Landscape, Challenges, and Opportunities


    • Alex Jaimes, Dataminr
    • Kathy McKeown, Columbia Engineering
    • Smaranda Muresan, Barnard College
    • Arvind Narayanan, Princeton University
    • Carl Vondrick, Columbia Engineering


    • Shih-Fu Chang, Columbia Engineering


    Seed Funding Presentations

    Introductory Remarks

    • Alberto Ibargüen, President, Knight Foundation (2005-2024); Board Member, Knight Institute (2016-2021)
    • Katy Glenn Bass, Knight Institute
    • Samar Kaukab, Columbia Engineering


    • Xia Zhou, Columbia Engineering
    • Kathy McKeown, Columbia Engineering
    • Lena Song, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, SSRC Digital Platforms Initiative
    • Carl Vondrick, Columbia Engineering

    Keynote 2: AI and Trust

    Keynote speaker

    • Bruce Schneier, Harvard Kennedy School


    Panel 2: Legal and Philosophical Questions: Information Integrity, Trustworthiness, and the First Amendment


    • Mike Ananny, University of Southern California
    • Nadine Farid Johnson, Knight Institute
    • Camille François, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs
    • James Grimmelmann, Cornell Tech and Cornell Law School


    • Katy Glenn Bass, Knight Institute

    Closing Remarks