Debate highlights ethical aspects of AI, warns of risks

Ljubljana – Respecting ethical principles and human rights is key for artificial intelligence (AI) technology to inspire trust, heard a virtual debate on Tuesday. Legislation should be amended to become, among other things, more adaptable as future innovations will pose additional challenges and risks, said the participants.

Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik opened the discussion by noting Slovenia’s well-established AI research and achievements at the international level. The country boasts the first international AI research centre under the auspices of UNESCO, he said as quoted by the ministry’s press release.

The minister also highlighted the role of cooperation between university courses, civil society and companies interested in AI technology.

However, experience shows that technology solutions are not the only requisite for an effective introduction of AI into various areas of life. Building up trust in such technologies is also key, he said at the debate, held by the ministry in cooperation with the ICT Innovation network, Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) and Ljubljana Technology Park.

Slovenia is preparing a national AI strategy, Koritnik said, adding that the programme would primarily aim to maintain the Slovenian language and cultural identity.

Meanwhile, Ivan Bratko, the founder of AI departments at the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) and Ljubljana Faculty of Computer and Information Science, said that a clear definition of autonomous weapons, self-driving vehicles and the use of AI to manipulate people online was needed.

Aleš Završnik, who currently works on a task force dealing with AI and criminal law in relation to autonomous vehicles, which has been appointed by the EU Council Legal Affairs Committee, agrees with Bratko that such a discussion is necessary since the AI technology launch has resulted in many risks and in some cases detrimental impact on human rights.

Gregor Strojin, the head of the EU Council Ad hoc Committee on AI, talked about the current legal regulation of this area. There are no legal gaps, however the existing regulations are imperfect and do not enable effective regulation, he warned.

AI expert Marko Grobelnik noted that future innovations will pose an even greater challenge for regulators than the current situation.

AI should be used to the benefit of people, said Luka Omladič, a member of a Slovenian expert group that advocates AI global partnership, philosopher and researcher Olga Markič and Maja Bogataj Jančič, the founder and head of the Intellectual Property Institute (IPI).