The Goethe-Institutes in S.Europe kick off cross-genre conversation over AI and ethics

EthicAI project aims to initiate a discourse on these topics across national and genre boundaries through a series of open lectures and discussions

Over 150 specialists in the field of artificial intelligence, ethics, art, law and technologies took part on Thursday in the virtual kick-off event of the project EthicAI - a joint initiative by the Goethe-Institutes in Ankara, Athens, Bucharest, Sarajevo, Sofia and Zagreb, aimed at exploring the intersections of AI and ethics and provoking a critical, multidisciplinary dialogue on the topic through a series of open lectures and panel discussions.

"Since the Corona crisis, at the latest, it has become clear to the general public that sooner or later almost all areas of our social life would be translated into digital and that algorithms and AI are already playing an increasingly important role. This is associated with opportunities, but also risks we cannot yet estimate. This is why it is so important that we do not leave the decisions only to the IT experts, but to the philosophers, the social scientists, researchers, as well as involve artists and civil society as a whole," noted the Goethe Institut Bulgaria's institute-director Marina Ludemann in her opening remarks during the EthicAI=LABS launch event.

"Therefore, the aim of the project is to initiate a regional network of activists who promote civil society discourse of the possibilities and downsides of AI," she then explained.

For this to be achieved in the next 6 months a team of 18 emerging experts coming from artistic, humanitarian and technological backgrounds from all over Southeast Europe, will explore the opportunities and challenges in developing ethical algorithms.

More specifically, participants will focus on AI's ethical impact in media, creativity, language processing and bias across national and genre boundaries. Central topics from the field of linguistics will be language acquisition, language processing and translation as well as linguistic communication between humans and AI.

In the field of bias, aspects such as cognitive processing, human error, discrimination and data protection will be discussed, as well as AI that eliminates or reinforces human prejudices. Creativity through algorithms as well as copyright and censorship are in the focus for the area of the creativity section.

Discussions in the topic area of media will feature aspects such as the use of private data for political polarisation, surveillance, propaganda and advertising as well as the future of deepfakes and tools for media manipulations.

"EthicAI is taking the initiative to promote exchange in all these fields and with its regional focus the project will be an important step boosting the most important companies and research institutes, dealing with AI and connecting them with NGO and cultural organisation for an interdisciplinary exchange," commented on Thursday digital artist and art critic Galina Dimitrova-Dimova, who is the curator of the project.

Hence, to create the first opportunity for both idea and partnership exchange, the launch event of the project also included a panel discussion with the lectors of the 4 thematic sessions, as well as a virtual expo where tech companies, research centres and universities were invited to show off their work in the field of STEM and digital transformation. A few thought-provoking audiovisual pieces, were also presented during the short art programme of the event.

The EthicAI project is a follow-up of the Generation A initiative by Goethe Institut's headquarter in Munich, which was established on the occasion of the German Presidency of EU in 2020. As outlined by, Jeannette Neustadt from the headquarters, the project is intended to sensitise Generations Z and Y to the technical and ethical developments in the field of AI. Especially since these are the generations that set the course to the so-called Generation A - the children that will have to grow up in the fourth revolution, in which algorithmic systems outthink and outdo humans.

The project Generation A=Algorithm is accompanied and supported by a European A(i)lliance - a Europe-wide network of experts. 

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