Kay Firth-Butterfield

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Kay Firth-Butterfield and Technology Governance

Kay Firth-Butterfield started her working life as a Barrister-at-Law in England. Her legal career which culminated with a part-time appointment as a Judge gives her a unique insight into Technology Governance both through regulation and case law.
In 2008 she moved to the USA to be a Professor and concentrate on her work on human rights and human trafficking, she published a book arising from this research in 2011. The last chapter of the book considered the interaction of humans and intelligent machines.
In 2014, she became the World’s first Chief AI Ethics Officer. This was for an AI start up in Austin, Texas, where she was tasked with setting up an Ethics Advisory Panel and helping staff to navigate the responsible development of their product.
By 2017 she had become a leading figure in Responsible AI and was head hunted to join the World Economic Forum to start in the role of Head of the AI and Machine Learning platform. Over the next six years she led a team of staff as well as Fellows seconded to the work from business, civil society, government and academia, to create guidelines, playbooks, and other materials which could be used by organisations creating a Responsible Technology culture in AI, Technology and Quantum Computing. They are listed below.

TIME 100 Impact Award Winner, Kay Firth-Butterfield for her work in technology governance

Additionally, she led the work on AI at World Economic Forum meetings around the world including Davos, convening the Global Future Council on AI in Dubai and convening the Global AI Council, chaired in rotation by Brad Smith (Microsoft), Kai Fu Lee, Arvind Krishna (IBM) and Vilas Dhar (Patrick J McGovern Foundation). In Davos she spoke on a number of topics including “why Responsible AI should be led by the CEO” in 2023 with co-panellists Brad Smith and Colin Bell (HSBC).

Since starting Good Tech Advisory in 2023, Kay has been invited to join the Forum’s Global Future Council on AI, their AI Governance Alliance and their Advisory Board on Digital Healthcare.

In 2024, she received one of 4 Impact awards given by TIME Magazine for her work over the last 14 years on AI Governance.


Technology Governance Projects led by Kay Firth-Butterfield

Many of these projects were collaborations between public and private organisations convened by Kay through her work at the World Economic Forum

AI Board Toolkit

An oversight toolkit for boards of directors – because the buck stops with them.

Download here

AI C-suite Toolkit

This toolkit provides a one-stop place for corporate executives to identify and understand the multiple and complex issues that AI raises for their business and society. It provides a practical set of tools to help them comprehend AI’s impact on their roles, ask the right questions, identify the key trade-offs and make informed decisions on AI strategy, projects and implementations.

Download here.

Quantum Computing Governance Principles

The report sets out the first set of principles for the responsible design and adoption of quantum computing technologies with key actions to be taken by stakeholders to incentivize the development of the technology while mitigating the possible risks.

Download here

The Smart Toy Awards

Smart toys bring many of the risks and benefits of AI into sharp focus with their leveraging of AI to enchant and educate our children. The first Smart Toy Awards event was held in 2021 and receive 47 entries from more than 20 countries. Submissions are judged on empowerment, accessibility, innovation and creativity.

For more, see www.smarttoyawards.org

Responsible AI Playbook (Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce)

Procurement of AI by Government

Produced as a collaboration between technology companies, supply chain experts and governments from USA, UAE, UK, Bahrain, Canada, this guide gives public organisations a framework for assessing AI products and identifying the impacts that they may have on their communities.

Download here

Procurement of AI by Government (Brazil)

This project describes the Brazilian governments experience with implementing the Procurement Guidelines.

Read more here.


The use of chatbots in healthcare offers the possibility of low cost, large scale deployment of healthcare – especially in areas where resources are scarce. The Chatbots RESET is a framework for governing the responsible use of chatbots in healthcare.

Read more here


A collaborative project between Deloitte, the World Economic Forum, Koç Holding and experts from around the world develop and test an AI based system for prediction wildfires to enable deployment of fire fighting personnel before a wildfire starts.

Watch Kay speaking about it here.

Read more here

GEP Supply Chains and AI

Guidelines to help commercial companies evaluate and implement AI solutions to source materials and suppliers that prioritize sustainable and ethical practices. Developed as a World Economic Forum project led by GEP with a task force of more than 40 worldwide companies.

Read more here

Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence for Human Resources

Using AI in human resources departments automates companies decision making in a highly regulated area and so exposes them to significant risk. This toolkit for HR professionals, led by McGill University, the Turkish Employer’s Association of Metal Industries and Baker McKenzie and bringing together experts from around the world guides HR professionals through assessing tools for use in AI to identify their strengths, weaknesses and the risks that they bring to their organisations.

Read more here

Kay Firth-Butterfield on the Nasdaq billboard