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13 international peers unite to solve a tech policy challenge in 5 days

Georgetown University policy student Vinuri Dissanayake (MPP’25) shared her experience at the second annual Ideathon in Singapore.

In the last few years, we have been bombarded with headlines relating to artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging tech — from the Hollywood Strike and the European Union AI Act to ChatGPT. The future of technology is very much at our front door, but it seems harder to know whether we should treat it as a guest or an intruder. As someone who deeply cares about understanding the role of responsible tech in society, I have felt increasingly restless about finding ways to explore this.

Participating in the second annual Ideathon, hosted by the McCourt School’s Tech & Public Policy program in partnership with the Georgetown Technology Policy Initiative, provided an unparalleled opportunity for me to better understand and explore the role of responsible tech in society.

Graduate students from Georgetown University spent a week in Singapore collaborating with international peers at Nanyang Technological University for the second annual Ideathon.

I spent a week in Singapore collaborating with students from Georgetown University and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to solve a real-world tech policy challenge for the Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information.

We were presented with a scenario that involved a malicious algorithm and tasked with understanding how to anticipate and prepare Singapore for associated risks, particularly by considering technological, policy and ethical solutions. In addition to cultural diversity, the cross-institutional team offered a wealth of varied experiences and perspectives. 

Within a few days, we created a sense of community, overcoming the challenge at hand and working together across differences. We rolled up our sleeves to ideate and identify an impactful, feasible solution for the problem. As we worked late into the evening, eating noodles over our laptops and scribbling on whiteboards, we were compelled to step outside of our assumptions and lived experiences. It was inspiring to witness my peers, not only demonstrate perseverance but also show a deep sense of commitment to the cause.

I was reminded that the best solutions are built collaboratively and with community in mind.

Vinuri Dissanayake (MPP’25)
Talia Stringfellow (MPP’25), Amelie D’Hers (MS-DSPP‘25), Juanita Santamaria (LLM’25) and Vinuri Dissanayake (MPP’25) visited the Flower Dome while traveling in Singapore.

The interdisciplinary team from Georgetown, including students studying communications, law, public policy and user experience (UX), also had the privilege of being mentored by policy practitioners from Google, the Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information and GovTech. They, along with Michelle DeMooy, director of the McCourt School’s Tech & Public Policy program, Barbara Schone, associate dean for academic affairs, and professors from NTU, challenged us to think about whom we most wanted to protect and how.

Beyond academics, my peers and I had the opportunity to experience a truly incredible culture. While I had briefly visited Singapore when I was a child, it felt like I was experiencing the country for the first time again. Singapore is everything that you imagine it to be and more — whether you are appreciating amazing food or watching the Supertree Grove light up.  The small island country is one of those places that leaves you speechless.  

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the Ideathon. It gave me a glimpse of the tech policy problems that I hope to solve. I was also reminded that discerning how to invite tech into our lives, whether as an intruder or a guest, is best achieved through collective effort.

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Tech & Public Policy