R. David Edelman

Director, Project on Technology, Economy & National Security


Dr. R. David Edelman is Director of the Project on Technology, the Economy, & National Security (TENS), part of the MIT Internet Policy Research Initiative (IPRI). He holds joint appointments in the Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and the Center for International Studies (CIS).

At MIT, Dr. Edelman leads IPRI’s AI policy research, with a particular emphasis on domestic and international governance of machine learning systems, and is the lead organizer of the annual MIT AI Policy Congress.  His research interests also include cybersecurity in the international system; emerging technologies and national security; and digital trade and markets.  He also teaches in Course 6, most recently 6.805Foundations of Internet Policy.

Dr. Edelman came to MIT following a distinguished career managing international and domestic technology policy in the U.S. federal government.  Until January 2017, Edelman served at the White House as Special Assistant to the President for Economic and Technology Policy at the National Economic Council (NEC) and the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP).

In his six years at the White House he led the development of and co-authored over a dozen legislative proposals, national strategies, Executive Orders, and Presidential reports — including the nation’s first international cyber policy, the International Strategy for Cyberspace, and its first AI policy.  He also quarterbacked successful negotiation of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield agreement supporting $260 billion in annual trade; led engagement with Fortune 50 technology companies; advised the President on a range of emerging technologies; and designed and managed over $15 billion of programs focused on education, and economic opportunity.  One such initiative, ConnectED, has delivered personalized learning capabilities to 30M+ American K-12 students and raised broadband access rates in public school districts from 33% to 99%.

From 2010 – 2012 Edelman served as the first Director for International Cyber Policy on the National Security Council (NSC) — making him, upon appointment, the youngest Director in the NSC’s seventy-year history.  Previously, he helped found the State Department’s Office of Cyber Affairs, where he developed the U.S. government’s early diplomatic strategy and international legal doctrine on cyber issues.  During this time, he also served as the United States’ lead negotiator on Internet issues at the United Nations, for which he was recognized with the State Department’s Superior Honor Award and twice its Meritorious Honor Award.

His insights and analysis have appeared in print in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, WIRED, Fast Company, and Fortune, and in broadcast on CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC, MSNBC, and NPR.

Dr. Edelman holds a B.A. from Yale University in History, and a Master’s and Doctorate in International Relations at Oxford University, where he was a Clarendon Scholar.  His forthcoming book on restraining state use of cyberattacks will be published by Oxford University Press in 2020.