This article was published by The Future Society in Seminars & Summits on December 11, 2019

Roundtable on AI and Democratic Development

Main insight

The Future Society joined International IDEA and European Commission to launch a discussion on AI and democracies.

Seminars & Summits
December 11, 2019
2 min read

BRUSSELS, Belgium – On 11 December 2019, The Future Society participated in a pioneering roundtable on AI and mapping  priority areas for EU assistance to democratic development.

International IDEA and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DG DEVCO) hosted a high-level roundtable in Brussels on 11 December 2019, to launch a powerful discussion on the impact of AI on democracy. More than 50 participants from EU institutions, universities, think thanks, and democracy-support organizations came together to develop a better understanding of the role that AI is playing in democracies and how the EU could harness its potential and mitigate the risks it presents through its development policy and programming.

Senior AI Policy Researcher, Niki Iliadis, was invited to join the roundtable to speak on the need for a global dialogue on the ethics of AI. The panel include a lively discussion between Juha Heikkilä (Head of Unit Robotics and AI, DG CNECT – European Commission), Louisa Klingvall (Policy Officer – Fundamental Rights Policy Unit, DG JUST, European Commission), Judith Orland (Programme Manager Good Governance, DG Democracy, Council of Europe), and Robert Krimmer (Professor of e-Governance and head of the DigiGovLab, Tallinn University of Technology and UNESCO-UNDP taskforce for “Elections & Internet, Social Messaging and AI”).

Niki made the case for an open dialogue on AI ethics and the urgency to build AI literacy worldwide. She contributed with three key arguments.

  • AI impacts (will impact) all sectors of life and all people. Hence, it is essential to involve as many citizens as possible if we want to move towards the responsible adoption of AI.
  • Beyond the number, there is the epistemic quality of a diversified and complex participation. The greater the diversity of participants, the deeper the recommendations will be since we will be able to have a more nuanced and representative panorama of reality. 
  • To move from principles to practice, individuals must be involved in the process. Individuals can help push their governments to follow these principles and they can also help push corporations to follow them.