Roundtable on “Artificial Intelligence: Reflection on its complexity and impact on our society”

UNESCO Paris, France, 11 September 2018
Room XI, 6:15 p.m. to 8 p.m

This roundtable is organized with funding support from Japan.

Artificial intelligence (AI)-based technologies have risen to the forefront of public discussion, including at the level of the United Nations, due their potential impacts on society. The global conversation on the possible transformations has been driven to a considerable extent by a series of AI applications ranging from intelligent networks and smart cities to autonomous and cognitive systems, including humanoid robots. These developments have been made possible by advances in “machine learning” and “deep learning” algorithms, combined with the availability of tremendous computing power, collection of and access to big data, cloud computing and storage, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

While AI has the potential to transform the future of humanity for the better and for sustainable development, there are thus also risks and challenges associated with AI, especially in terms of deepening inequalities and divides, in addition to human rights implications. In order to sketch possible scenarios and take advantage of the opportunities while managing risks, it is important to develop a more comprehensive understanding of how societies may be transformed by these technologies, taking account of how they are controlled. Due to the potential global impacts of AI and the convergence of interests and actors, an intercultural dialogue is needed to take into account the different cultural approaches.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the IBC and the 20th anniversary of the IGBC and COMEST, a number of special events is being organized. As part of this series, UNESCO has created this roundtable to bring these issues to the discussion of the general public and raise awareness about the ethical questions raised by artificial intelligence.

Moderators and speakers

The roundtable will be moderated by Prof. Peter-Paul Verbeek, Faculty of Philosophy of Twente University, Netherlands, and a member of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology of UNESCO (COMEST).

The speakers in the roundtable are:

  • Dr Birna Van Riemsdijk
    Assistant Professor of Intimate Computing, TU Delft; guest researcher, University of Twente; and elected member of the board of the International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (IFAAMAS) from 2012-2018.
  • Dr David Hanson
    Roboticist; founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hanson Robotics.
  • Prof. Koichi Hori
    Professor, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, University of Tokyo; expert on AI technology for supporting human creative activities; and member of the expert panel in the Cabinet Office of Japan on Social Principles for Human-centric AI.
  • Prof. Vanessa Nurock
    Associate Professor in Political Theory and Ethics, Political Science Department, Paris 8 University; member of the CRESPPA Research lab (France); and member of the Council for Research, Technology and Innovation of the Centre Val-de-Loire Region.


You can also join us for the Facebook Live session of the Roundtable on UNESCO's Facebook account.


Register Online
(before 3 September 2018)

After online registration, you will receive an invitation card to access the roundtable.

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