The Elements of AI Governance with Janet Johnson and Ali Maaxa [Podcast]

The Elements of AI Governance with Janet Johnson and Ali Maaxa [Podcast]

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a hot media topic since ChatGPT burst onto the scene late last year. But the breathless speculation about what this technology potentially holds makes it challenging to separate the hype from reality. 

On this episode of PR Talk, Amy unpacks the future of AI with Janet Johnson and Ali Maaxa of Portland’s AI Governance Group, a new organization helping organizations work proactively to harness these exciting new tools. 

The Next Technological Wave

AI is the next in a line of technological waves set to crash over humanity. We already interact with AI whenever we use Siri, Alexa, or even autocorrect. The technology is found in devices everywhere in the world, making AI’s existing scope and scale massive. ChatGPT is just one type of AI tool, called a large language model, that’s taken the press by storm. 

During the conversation, Janet and Ali explained how AI is part of a very long technological pathway humans have used to help us harness large amounts of data to make decisions. Before AI, we used machine learning. Before we used machine learning, we used statistics. However, the impacts of AI could dwarf anything that came before, and the risks are still mostly unknown, making it a challenging space for organizations to enter. This problem is what the AI Governance Group set out to solve.


About the AI Governance Group

Janet and Ali launched the AI Governance Group to help organizations understand the possibilities, potential pitfalls and responsible use of AI tools. A significant part of this work involves charting what AI will replace or enhance, within an organization. From there, the group creates strategic AI adoption frameworks that plot where these tools will enter an organization, the data sources they’ll draw from and how employees will use them in their everyday work. 


The Potential Impacts of AI

Janet drew from her long experience in social media to demonstrate the potential stakes of AI technology. When social media launched 20 years ago, nobody knew then that it would completely obliterate our sense of what is true and untrue. She explained that as AI develops, we must use critical thinking tools like never before because technology will continue challenging our understanding of reality in ways we don’t yet realize. 

Janet also believes that this dynamic will create a significant opportunity for PR professionals who specialize in crisis communications to help companies clean up inadvertently created by AI.

Listen to the entire episode to learn more about the AI Governance Group’s mission, along with a discussion of AI embodiment and Ali’s theory about how Marshall Mcluhan’s writings about the printing press offer clues for the future of AI. 

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About the Guests: Janet Johnson

Janet Johnson is an experienced chief marketing officer and executive marketing and sales team leader for Fortune 100 and mid-size and growth organizations. Over her career, she’s run global marketing and sales teams for education technology, financial services, real estate and technology companies. Janet is also the founder of the AI Governance Group, a federation of highly experienced speakers, educators, researchers and change management accelerators supporting the safe adoption of AI technologies in organizations of all sizes.


About the Guests: Ali Maaxa, Ph.D.

Since 2005, Ali Maaxa, Ph.D., has used her training in anthropology and media to research how humans from different walks of life, abilities, resources, values, places, perspectives and needs engage technology. She answers this challenge by drawing from a refined toolkit of strategies and methods, from ethnographic collaboration to usability studies. Ali is the Director of Product and Strategy for the AI Governance Group and an associate faculty member at Portland State University.

AI governance
AI Governance

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This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.