Building peace in the minds of men and women

300 middle school and high school students participate in UNESCO CAMPUS on artificial intelligence

26 March 2019

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© UNESCO

The 22nd of March 2019, UNESCO hosted 300 young people between the ages of 14 to 17 at its headquarters for a debate about artificial intelligence. Each month, CAMPUS UNESCO is an opportunity for young people to discuss major global issues with civil society experts and UNESCO teams. The objectives of this month’s animated discussion were: demystifying the challenges of artificial intelligence (AI), clarifying the issues surrounding AI, and listening to young people’s questions about governance, ethics, the future of employment and the sustainable solutions offered by AI.

"Will man ever be overtaken by machines?", "Can artificial intelligence be trusted?", “Can artificial intelligence have a negative impact on our privacy?”, between fear and hope, students called on Nicolas Miailhe, co-founder of The Future Society and The AI Initiative – a think-tank specializing in the impact and consequences of artificial intelligence on our daily lives – to answer questions about their hopes and fears. Far from being idealistic, N. Miailhe openly discussed the challenges of making the concept of artificial intelligence accessible and gave his vision for the future of this technology. Beyond the complex robotic aspect and its feats of algorithmic prowess such as facial recognition, AI can also act as a force for social good. For example, echoing UNESCO’s mandate, the Women's WorldWide Web (W4) Foundation – Europe’s first crowd-funding platform – proves that AI can be a sustainable solution to societal, economic and environmental challenges. Knowing that about 90% of future jobs will require computer skills, W4 President Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, presented her organization’s actions to promote women’s and girls’ equal access to information and communication technologies (ICT).

This interesting debate ended with the intervention of Sasha Rubel, focal point for research on artificial intelligence within the Knowledge Society Division at UNESCO. She highlighted the potential of this technology to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in a way that respects legal and ethical frameworks.

Since 2014, 72 CAMPUSES raised awareness to over 22,500 young people on major issues such as sports and citizenship, peace, sustainable development, human rights, girls’ education, genocide, freedom of expression, and cultural heritage. More than 110 civil society experts, journalists, researchers, sportsmen, artists, navigators and entrepreneurs have joined the UNESCO teams helping youth achieve a better understanding of major contemporary issues.