This article was published by The Future Society in Seminars & Summits, The Law & Society Initiative on September 24, 2019

IEEE, Covington & Burling, The Future Society & ELONTech Host the Inaugural Athens AI Roundtable

Main insight

Gathering advanced the first-ever effort to establish internationally-recognized principles for Artificial Intelligence in the Rule of Law.

Seminars & SummitsThe Law & Society Initiative
September 24, 2019
3 min read

ATHENS, Greece — More than 70 experts from over 18 countries met for two days of working sessions to reconcile views about the governance and impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Rule of Law. The inaugural gathering represents the most advanced effort to date towards establishing international consensus around key principles and policy recommendations for stakeholders around the world involved in the judicial system.

The Athens AI Roundtable took place on September 21-22, 2019 and included representatives from multilateral and intergovernmental organizations, such as the Council of Europe, the European Commission, and the European Parliament, governmental and public institutions, leading academic and research centers, prominent think-tanks, human rights advocates, judicial education centers, global technology corporations such as Microsoft, SAP, IBM, and Google, law firms, law societies, NGOs and other stakeholders. The Roundtable, held under Chatham House rules, covered three themes for stewarding AI in the Rule of Law: policy foundations for AI in legal systems, evidence of implementation and the education of various stakeholders.

“We need to set global standards and ethical guidelines as we have proposed already in order to keep citizens’ sensitive data safe and make sure that AI won’t increase inequality,” commented MEP Eva Kaili, Chair of the European Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology. “On the contrary we need exponential “tech 4 good”, new “data trust” and to move towards democratic decentralization.”

“A broad, network-of-network effort is taking shape around the world to ensure that the design and use of AI systems contribute to human rights and dignity being respected and people of all nations and cultures being empowered and uplifted,” said Konstantinos Karachalios, managing director of the IEEE Standards Association. “The Athens AI Roundtable marked a new milestone of progress in this gathering global movement, and IEEE is proud to be one of the organizations leveraging its strengths, constituency expertise and collaborative partnerships in the leadership of the effort.”

Lee Tiedrich, the Co-Chair of the Global Artificial Intelligence Practice at the law firm Covington & Burling LLP commented, “We are delighted to co-host and participate in this important event. Artificial Intelligence holds so much promise. It is important to have these dialogues among a wide variety of stakeholders from different countries to discuss the appropriate principles, practices and legal frameworks that will help society benefit from the technology in a trustworthy manner.”

Nicolas Miailhe, President of The Future Society declared, “the trustworthy adoption of AI in legal systems is a key challenge that we need to get right if we are to succeed in squaring up the digital and ecological transition without having to sacrifice our liberal, social, and democratic order. Given the structural delays in equipping judicial systems with digital capabilities vis-à-vis private actors or other branches of government, AI adoption in the Law is both a challenge of the what and the how to develop the rights protocols, metrics and standards as well as to upgrade training infrastructure accordingly.”

The Roundtable was organized by a coalition of think-tanks, standard-setting body and industry: the European Law Observatory on New Technologies, The Future Society, IEEE and Covington & Burling. The event was featured in Bloomberg Law.

Photo by Delfina Belli for The Future Society