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Emerging Technology Policy Writing Competition


The Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), the Stanford Digital Economy Lab, and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) are seeking student submissions to the inaugural emerging technology policy writing competition. As emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence profoundly shape every aspect of our lives, managing their social impacts has become a top priority for many policymakers. Succinct, effective, and evidence-based policy writing can help policymakers map out a human-centric approach to the safe, responsible development and deployment of those technologies. This year’s competition focuses on the future of work. We are looking for innovative policy analysis and solutions that leverage emerging technologies for the creation of jobs.

emerging technology


2022 Winners

  • Aniket Baksy, Ph.D. candidate, Economics
    Avi Gupta, Master's student, Computer Science

    Although AI is increasingly applicable to business tasks, AI adoption remains low and concentrated in large firms, which increases inequality across firms and workers at those firms. We identify the key barriers to AI adoption as the high costs of AI customization to specific business needs of complementary data infrastructure needed to leverage AI. We propose two clusters of policies to lower AI adoption costs for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). First, we propose public support targeted at the creation and commercialization of flexible low/no-code AI platforms. Second, we propose creating public data repositories and a clearinghouse-like infrastructure to improve SME access to cutting-edge pre-trained models and computational infrastructure. We also propose the creation of a medium-skilled data curator workforce to manage and reuse data and provide new opportunities for retrained workers.

  • Wajeeha Ahmad, Ph.D. candidate, Management Science and Engineering
    Derek Knowles, Ph.D. candidate, Mechanical Engineering

    Emerging robot technologies that augment rather than replace humans yield two advantages: 1) new types of tasks can be completed through the synergy of humans and robots and 2) robots that perform menial or strenuous tasks reduce the required abilities of the human operator thereby lowering the barrier of entry into that particular industry. Specifically, we explore how people with disabilities can be empowered to join a wider range of industries by training them as robot operators. We offer insight and policy recommendations on how to create more widespread and inclusive economic growth through human-robot collaboration.

  • Carl Shan, Master's student, Computer Science
    Darren Wong, Master’s, Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Web3.0 marks the newest iteration of the Internet, characterized by decentralized digital infrastructure that empowers users as the primary arbiter of value creation and exchange. It is poised to create new jobs in existing and new sectors, including fractional work and the creator economy. However, equitable labor outcomes are contingent on access to Web3.0 and there is uncertainty surrounding its impact on job security and quality. We recommend policymakers assign agency jurisdiction to spearhead Web3.0 development and foster a conducive business environment. Setting standards and improving the interoperability of traditional and Web3.0 ecosystems will protect workers and legacy organizations.

Why enter?

The goal of this competition is to help students develop policy writing skills, foster inter- and multidisciplinary research conversations on emerging technologies, and facilitate collaborations across fields. Winners will be announced in early September, and the three winning teams will receive a total of $10,000 in cash prizes. Further, the winners will publish their final products as Stanford HAI and Stanford Digital Economy Lab policy briefs.

>>> $5,000 1st Place
>> $3,000 2nd Place
> $2,000 3rd Place


Developing business models and technology policies that drive job growth is an essential and urgent task as the next generation of technologies will create massive labor market disruptions: Some jobs will become obsolete, others will transform considerably, and entirely new jobs will be created. While much has been studied about how technologies may displace jobs, less attention has been paid to how to catalyze the direction of commercialization of those technologies to create jobs—particularly for low- to middle-wage workers without college degrees.

Abstracts and final policy briefs should assess the effect of a particular technology (from the list below) on the future of work—specifically, its current state of commercialization and impact on jobs; and the policies and business models that may be needed to enable the creation of jobs, build equity in the labor market, and promote democratic values.

  • Artificial intelligence (including applications and methodologies)
  • Robotics and autonomous vehicles (including drones)
  • Advance communications infrastructure such as 5G and Web3.0
  • Quantum computing
  • XR and metaverse

This competition is supported by the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI, the Stanford Digital Economy Lab, and a gift from the Markle Foundation.


Meet the people making the Emerging Technology Policy Writing Competition happen.


The competition is open to Stanford graduate students from any discipline (i.e. computer science,
engineering, social science, etc.) who are interested in developing policy-related knowledge and skills
and whose research area intersects with emerging technologies.

Application closed on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. Upon selection, candidates will be paired into teams of
two where members across fields (e.g., social science, humanities, and STEM) are represented. The teams
will work with advisers to develop policy briefs via a series of workshops and editorial processes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the competition’s timeline? Submissions of abstracts are due July 6, 2022. Selected candidates are notified by July 17, 2022, and will work with advisers over the subsequent seven weeks to workshop their ideas and write policy briefs. Winning teams will be announced in early September.

Can I work on this alone? No. Candidates can submit initial abstracts individually, but upon submission, selections will be assigned to teams of two where members across fields (e.g., social science, humanities, and STEM) work on policy briefs together. As in the real world, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary efforts are crucial to tackling challenging policy questions related to emerging technologies.

What is a policy brief? A policy brief is a concise summary of information on a particular issue with analysis and recommendations to equip policymakers with the knowledge needed to think critically about and make decisions on said issue. A high-quality policy brief uses clear language to help non-specialist readers understand the thrust of a subject matter, communicating the practical implications of research to the policy audience. Find examples of HAI policy briefs.

What makes for effective policy writing? Good policy writing is clear, concise, and engaging to read. Recommendations or bottom lines appear up-front so readers immediately grasp what the essential takeaways are. Read the Stanford HAI policy writing and style guidelines.

How will policy briefs be evaluated? The jury will evaluate each brief based on its writing, analysis, and recommendations. Successful briefs should assess the technology from an analytical perspective, research its opportunities and challenges, diagnose its effect and implications, and recommend innovative interventions to positively steer its impact on job creation.

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