The Transatlantic Divergence Over GMO Regulation: A Precautionary Tale for AI Governance

Thursday, February 28, 2019
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305
  • Andrew Grotto

Abstract: Europe and the United States have sharply divergent regulatory regimes and public perceptions on the benefits and risks of genetically modified foods. I draw on the history and factors behind this divergence, including the concept of regulatory precaution, to highlight how institutional design choices, contingent events and policy entrepreneurs can shape how societies absorb new technologies, with particular application to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation. The story of GMO governance is a precautionary tale for technologists and policy makers about possible governance futures for AI. 


Bio: Andrew J. Grotto is a William J. Perry International Security Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford University.

Grotto’s research interests center on the national security and international economic dimensions of America’s global leadership in information technology innovation, and its growing reliance on this innovation for its economic and social life. He is particularly interested in the allocation of responsibility between the government and the privater sector for defending against cyber threats, especially as it pertains to critical infrastructure; cyber-enabled information operations as both a threat to, and a tool of statecraft for, liberal democracies; opportunities and constraints facing offensive cyber operations as a tool of statecraft, especially those relating to norms of sovereignty in a digitally connected world; and governance of global trade in information technologies.

Before coming to Stanford, Grotto was the Senior Director for Cybersecurity Policy at the White House in both the Obama and Trump Administrations. His portfolio spanned a range of cyber policy issues, including defense of the financial services, energy, communications, transportation, health care, electoral infrastructure, and other vital critical infrastructure sectors; cybersecurity risk management policies for federal networks; consumer cybersecurity; and cyber incident response policy and incident management. He also coordinated development and execution of technology policy topics with a nexus to cyber policy, such as encryption, surveillance, privacy, and the national security dimensions of artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

At the White House, he played a key role in shaping President Obama’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan and driving its implementation. He was also the principal architect of President Trump’s cybersecurity executive order, “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure.”

Grotto joined the White House after serving as Senior Advisor for Technology Policy to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, advising Pritzker on all aspects of technology policy, including Internet of Things, net neutrality, privacy, national security reviews of foreign investment in the U.S. technology sector, and international developments affecting the competitiveness of the U.S. technology sector.

Grotto worked on Capitol Hill prior to the Executive Branch, as a member of the professional staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He served as then-Chairman Dianne Feinstein’s lead staff overseeing cyber-related activities of the intelligence community and all aspects of NSA’s mission. He led the negotiation and drafting of the information sharing title of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which later served as the foundation for the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act that President Obama signed in 2015. He also served as committee designee first for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and later for Senator Kent Conrad, advising the senators on oversight of the intelligence community, including of covert action programs, and was a contributing author of the “Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.”

Before his time on Capitol Hill, Grotto was a Senior National Security Analyst at the Center for American Progress, where his research and writing focused on U.S. policy towards nuclear weapons - how to prevent their spread, and their role in U.S. national security strategy.

Grotto received his JD from the University of California at Berkeley, his MPA from Harvard University, and his BA from the University of Kentucky.