Biography

Kevin Klyman is a Technology Policy Researcher at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His research at the Avoiding Great Power War Project primarily focuses on mitigating harms stemming from large language models in the United States, China, and Europe. He also conducts research related to compute governance, digital trade agreements, quantum computing export controls, telecommunications infrastructure deployment, Chinese technology regulators, clean energy supply chains, and the geopolitical ramifications of applications of biotechnology.

Klyman’s writing on the U.S.-China technology competition has been published in Foreign Policy, TechCrunch, Just Security, The American Prospect, The Diplomat, Inkstick, The National Interest, and South China Morning Post. He is the author of “The Great Tech Rivalry: China vs. the U.S.” with Professor Graham Allison, which has been cited by The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and NPR among others.

Klyman was an inaugural recipient of the Belfer Center's Lovita Strain Award for Advancing Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in recognition of his work to promote equity as a leader on Belfer's DIB Committee. In addition to his role at the Belfer Center, he is a Research Assistant at Stanford's Center for Research on Foundation Models, an Emerging Expert at the Forum on the Arms Trade. He is pursuing a Master's in International Policy at Stanford University.

Klyman has led tech policy initiatives for a variety of the world’s leading international organizations. As an Artificial Intelligence and Digital Rights Fellow at United Nations Global Pulse, the AI lab of the UN Secretary-General, he headed the organization’s work on national AI strategies and coordinated the UN’s Privacy Policy Group. Klyman helped lead the development of a risks, harms, and benefits assessment for algorithmic systems that is now used across the UN. His other projects included working with engineers to address risks posed by the UN’s machine learning-based tools, organizing international consultations on data governance frameworks, and drafting data sharing agreements between the UN and the private sector. After the onset of the pandemic, Klyman coauthored a new privacy policy in partnership with the World Health Organization—the “Joint Statement on Data Protection and Privacy in the COVID-19 Response”—which was adopted by the UN as a whole.

As a Policy Fellow at the UN Foundation’s Digital Impact Alliance, Klyman built a database that is now used by the World Bank and the UN Development Programme to assess countries' readiness for digital investment. He also worked with the German and Estonian governments to spin up the GovStack initiative in order to assist governments in providing digital services. At the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, Klyman directed research on countries’ policies regarding autonomous weapons, resulting in the landmark report “Stopping Killer Robots: Country Positions on Banning Fully Autonomous Weapons and Retaining Human Control.” 

Klyman has also contributed to a number of policy arenas aside from technology. At Human Rights Watch, he helped expose war crimes in Syria and Yemen through open-source intelligence gathering and coauthored a report about the illegal use of cluster munitions. As a Legislative Assistant to the Mayor of Berkeley, California, he drafted a dozen pieces of legislation that nearly doubled the city’s investments in affordable housing. Additionally, as a Legislative Assistant to an elected commissioner on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, he authored enabling legislation that paved the way for Berkeley to become one of the first and only cities in the country to ban housing discrimination against formerly incarcerated tenants.

Klyman graduated with highest honors in political science from UC Berkeley along with a degree in applied mathematics concentrating in computer science. He is an award-winning debater who achieved the highest ranking in Berkeley’s history in American parliamentary debate and was Co-President of Berkeley’s parliamentary debate team; he has also coached multiple national debate champions. His thesis on Chinese foreign policy won the Owen D. Young Prize as the top paper in international relations and he received the John Gardner Public Service Fellowship as one of Berkeley’s top three public service-oriented graduates. He serves as Co-President of the John Gardner Fellowship Association, a 501(c)3.

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