AI Conference at Finlandia Hall gathered nearly 400 participants

AI Conference at Finlandia Hall gathered nearly 400 participants

The conference on the impacts of artificial intelligence on human rights, the rule of law and democracy, organised as part of Finland's Presidency of the Council of Europe, attracted a larger audience than was expected. Instead of the expected 300 participants, the conference brought together about 400 people.

Opening speeches of the conference were held by Minister of Justice of France Belloubet (left), Minister for Foreign Affairs Soini and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Jagland. Kuva: Kimmo Räisänen

During the opening speeches given by Minister for Foreign Affairs Soini, Secretary General Jagland and Minister of Justice of France Belloubet, the conference room was almost fully packed with participants from all over the world. In his opening speech, Foreign Minister Soini discussed the importance of setting an example: the first steps can be critical in how the relation between artificial intelligence, human rights and the rule of law is shaped.

In addition to the addresses by the high quests, the first conference day included two panel discussions and an AI in Action event, during which many companies and public organisations had an opportunity to present their own AI innovations. The first panel discussion focused on AI and human rights.  In the panel discussion, Michael O'Flaherty, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, emphasised that AI should be "streamlined" into the existing human rights systems.

The other panel discussion held in the first conference day explored the effects of AI on democratic processes. Two of the panellists, Moez Chakchouk, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information in UNESCO, and Pekka Ala-Pietilä, Chair of the EU High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence, discussed the EU's ethics guidelines for AI, prepared in the group. The recommendations will be published later this spring.

The second conference day was opened by Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen. In his speech, the Minister supported the European approach to AI, which is based on democracy and the rule of law. A panel discussion on AI and the rule of law was held on the second conference day. The panellists were mainly high-level legal experts who presented various views on the significance and quality of the regulation of AI.

The closing remarks were presented by Professor Markku Suksi from Åbo Akademi University. Suksi noted that it is essential from the point of view of human rights, the rule of law and democracy that legal regulation of AI be put in place.  He added, however, that the regulation should not only set limitations but also be enabling.

Read the conclusions of the conference here(Link to another website.).

The Unit for Human Rights Policy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs extend their warm thanks to the organisers, speakers and participants. Finland's Presidency of the Council of Europe will last until 17 May 2019.