Lee Tiedrich: Pioneering Innovations at the Nexus of Law, Policy and Technology

Lee Tiedrich
Lee Tiedrich

Navigating the complex landscape of emerging technologies demands a unique blend of expertise and a forward-thinking perspective. Lee Tiedrich, a Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Law & Responsible Technology, an Executive in Residence and AI Health Scholar at Duke University, and the Founder and CEO at Tiedrich Tech Strategies, LLC stands at the intersection of law, technology and innovation.

Having traversed the realms of emerging technologies for decades, Lee Tiedrich’s journey began with the inception of multi-channel video and cellular competition, progressing through the eras of e-commerce and internet commercialization for today. Over the years, she has consistently gravitated towards the challenge of fostering innovation in a manner that is not only cutting-edge but also safe, trusted and responsible. Her commitment extends beyond technological advancements to encompass broader societal benefits, global security and prosperity.

In crafting solutions for this complex landscape, Lee emphasizes a multi-disciplinary approach. She underscores the importance of developing legal and policy frameworks that seamlessly integrate with evolving technologies and reflect an understanding of market practices. Recognizing that organizations must adopt multi-disciplinary strategies, she develops approaches for aligning business and technical teams with other specialists to also address legal, policy, ethical, and sustainability considerations throughout the entire lifecycle of emerging technology development and deployment.

Lee’s experience serves as the bedrock for her approach to artificial intelligence (AI), data and other cutting-edge technologies. Unlocking the benefits and managing the risks associated with these technologies requires a nuanced understanding and a comprehensive set of solutions. Her approach is further informed by her roles in both the OECD AI and Global Partnership on AI (GPAI) expert group.

For GPAI, Lee co-leads the Intellectual Property Committee and a project focused on increasing voluntary and responsible AI data and model sharing.  With the advent of generative AI, open-source AI models and the scraping of publicly accessible data, the need for responsible sharing practices has become paramount. Lee’s GPAI work underscores how complementary and diverse solutions, ranging from standard contract terms and business codes of conduct to technical tools and education, can collectively unlock responsible AI data and model sharing.

Adapting to Change

The dynamic landscape of artificial intelligence requires effective leadership for harnessing its benefits and navigating potential pitfalls. Lee emphasizes the importance of embodying key values, stating, “Leaders must publicly embrace and uphold good values, like those outlined in the OECD AI Principles, serving as our organization’s North Star.”

Lee advocates for a commitment to lifelong learning, asserting that leaders must be nimble in understanding market dynamics and implementing change to keep pace with the evolving AI landscape. Enthusiastically embracing continuous learning is crucial to navigating the rapid developments in AI technology, legality, and other facets. Furthermore, she stresses the significance of understanding the human impact of AI systems, stating, “Life-long learning includes comprehending how people are affected by our AI systems, offering crucial insights including for risk mitigation and transparency enhancement.”

Recognizing the complexity of AI, Lee underscores the need to cultivate a multidisciplinary team. “AI leaders should inspire teams that communicate and collaborate effectively, aligned with the organization’s values throughout the AI development and deployment lifecycle,” she stresses. This involves fostering a shared thirst for knowledge and adaptability among team members.

Global Voices, Global Benefits

International collaboration stands as a linchpin for unlocking benefits and mitigating risks on a global scale in the ever-expanding realms of AI and data. Lee accentuates the importance of such collaboration, stating, “International efforts, exemplified by initiatives like the United Nations, OECD, GPAI, G7, G20, NATO, and the UK AI Safety Summit reflect the reality that technology transcends borders.”

Lee, drawing on decades of experience and a multi-disciplinary perspective, brings unique insights to address the diverse needs of the global community. Engaging in multi-stakeholder AI conversations worldwide, from India to Taiwan, Europe, North America, and the Middle East, allows me to ensure that all voices are heard. Regular interactions with government, civil society, industry, academia, and other sectors further enrich her understanding. This inclusive approach is crucial. Considering historically under-represented voices in framing AI policies and practices is essential to ensuring that AI benefits everyone, both at the policy level and in practical AI implementation within organizations.

Lee’s advocacy for international harmonization in responsible AI policies, standards and tools aligns with the understanding that technology’s impact knows no boundaries. As she aptly puts it, “Working collectively on a global scale is key to ensuring the widespread benefits of AI for everyone.”

AI as a Crucial Ally

In the quest to address the pressing issues of climate crisis and biodiversity loss, AI emerges as a powerful tool. Lee is co-leading the GPAI RAISE Committee and she highlights the potential, stating, “Our comprehensive reports outline specific use cases and roadmaps for optimizing AI to help tackle these critical objectives.” However, she cautions against overlooking the environmental risks associated with AI, as emphasized in a 2022OECD and GPAI report. AI, if not developed and deployed properly can exacerbate environmental concerns with direct and indirect adverse impacts necessitating improved measurements and reporting techniques.

Policymakers in the US and EU are actively responding to these concerns, underlining the need for organizations to integrate sustainability into their responsible AI programs. These developments underscore the crucial role of addressing environmental impacts in the responsible deployment of AI, ensuring that it contributes positively to our global challenges rather than exacerbating them.

Innovate to Influence

Laws and policies frequently change. Lee encourages students to focus not only on current legal requirements but also on how laws likely will and should evolve. Anticipating legal change can help organizations smoothly plan future operations, ensure compliance and gain competitive advantages. This forward-looking approach requires multidisciplinary expertise, with legal and policy specialists effectively coordinating with technical, business, environmental sustainability, and other specialists. She encourages students to collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams so they can learn from each other and develop the necessary knowledge and skills to tackle these complex matters.

Inspired by innovation, Lee urges students to actively participate in the policy-shaping process. “Students shouldn’t underestimate their potential to impact policy developments positively,” she asserts. Encouraging them to bring new ideas to the forefront, their contributions are invaluable in shaping the future trajectory of laws and policies. This inclusive and proactive approach ensures a dynamic and informed engagement with the evolving legal landscape.

Policies in Progress

Artificial intelligence has advanced so much faster than our intellectual property (IP) and other laws. For instance, AI can help produce many valuable outputs including creative content, inventions and data. Today’s IP laws do not clearly answer whether and to what extent works created using AI are protectable. Nor do the laws necessarily determine who has rights to any such works that may be protectable. Scraping publicly accessible information from third party websites also raises myriad IP and other legal issues, as reflected in several high-profile lawsuits. Unsurprisingly, policymakers have turned their attention to AI as well as IP, and this will likely continue.

Lee emphasizes the pivotal role of contracts in the evolving AI and IP policy landscape, stating, “Contracts can play a critical role in providing more certainty and helping address some legal gaps.” In a recent OECD blog post, she elaborates on how parties can leverage contracts for this purpose. Lee’s GPAI efforts are dedicated to establishing a global collaboration platform for facilitating development of standard contract terms. She anticipates ongoing work in tandem with policymakers, developing business codes of conduct and the creation of technical and educational tools to further shape the AI and IP policy landscape.

Navigating the Future

Lee anticipates a continued rise in AI-driven transactions.  Issues such as intellectual property, privacy, cybersecurity, and trustworthiness will be at the forefront, as reflected in emerging AI policies and laws. She also highlights the growing importance of liability provisions in transactions, emphasizing that contractually allocating liability for potential harms caused by AI is a critical consideration.

To help navigate the complexities of AI systems with intricate value chains, Lee suggests understanding relevant technologies, value chains, business models, and laws.  This is key to finding mutually agreeable contractual allocations of rights and responsibilities. Standard contract terms, she notes, can also be instrumental in resolving these issues. Lee emphasizes the significance of AI due diligence before agreements, stating, “Proper due diligence helps parties comprehend risks, facilitating more streamlined negotiations and better risk mitigation strategies.”

Tech for Good

She notes, “I’m very excited about technology’s potential to advance social good, global security, and prosperity, addressing climate change and advancing healthcare and education.” Her enthusiasm extends to the increasing number of entrepreneurs pioneering responsible innovation and competition. Lee anticipates that ongoing global efforts to develop standards will facilitate competition for new entrants, as it should become easier for new players to compete and, equally as important, for the global community to benefit.

Beyond policy and academia, Lee actively translates responsible technology principles into practice. She focuses on operationalizing responsible technology, addressing AI and data governance, promoting responsible data and model sharing, particularly with open-source AI models. Lee also dedicates efforts to navigating the intersection of AI with intellectual property, privacy, and climate issues in the evolving technological landscape.