Artificial Intelligence: reflection on its complexity and impact on society


As the Artificial Intelligence (AI) based technologies grow increasingly ubiquitous, UNESCO, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, hosted a roundtable discussion on 11 September 2018, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Moderated by Peter-Paul Verbeek from the Faculty of Philosophy of Twente University (Netherlands), the debate focused on the potential impacts of AI on society.

“AI is one of the most influential technologies of all time. There is almost no area of our existence that is not affected by AI or will not be affected by it in the future.” – Peter-Paul Verbeek

In celebration of the 25 years of reflection on bioethics and ethics of science and technology at UNESCO, the event highlighted the ethical implications and questions raised by AI technologies towards building more inclusive knowledge societies and achieving sustainable development goals. The event was also the first of a series of roundtables to be organized in the upcoming years, with the aim of increasing awareness on the topic by stakeholders and the general public.

Considering the influential nature of AI, the discussion emphasized the need to develop a dialogue within different areas, including the public, on ethical issues to tackle these projected social changes brought about by this technology. Additionally, themes such as accessibility, security, AI supporting human creativity, challenges in designing ethical AI were discussed.

Finalizing the roundtable discussion with a lively interaction with the audience, the event highlighted the importance of ensuring a ethical debate at the global level, purely , in order to ensure that AI serves humanity in the best possible way, in respect to human rights and values.

Guest speakers featured on the roundtable were: Dr. Birna van Riemsdijk, Assistant Professor of Intimate Computing at TU Delft; Prof. Koichi Hori, Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Tokyo; Prof. Vanessa Nurock, Associate Professor in Political Theory and Ethics, Political Science Department in Paris 8 University.