AI and Society Event with keynote Professor Stuart Russell at the NCH

8th November 2023. The Centre for Digital Policy was delighted to support the AI and Society event at the National Concert Hall, Dublin on the 8th November, where key academic, regulatory and industry figures gathered to explore the challenges of ensuring Artificial Intelligence is developed in a way which is beneficial to society. 

The event was organised by the UCD Institute for Discovery, UCD Centre for Digital Policy and the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics. 

Centre for Digital Policy Director Elizabeth Farries opened proceedings, welcoming Ireland’s AI Ambassador Patricia Scanlon to outline the rapidly evolving state of global AI development and regulation. Dr. Scanlon was followed by the keynote speaker, AI pioneer Stuart Russell, Professor at UC Berkeley, UCD Discovery Global Visiting Fellow and a leading voice on the potential impacts of AI on humanity. His talk gave the audience a comprehensive overview of the development and current limitations of Large Language Models, suggestions for how to insist on red lines for model behaviour, comparative regulatory arrangements for high risk technologies such as atomic energy and an optimistic paradigm for how engineers can design AI systems with in-built humanity preserving values. 

After the equally sobering and optimistic keynote,  Susan Leavy moderated a forward thinking panel discussion with Ireland’s new Online Safety Commissioner Niamh Hodnett from Coimisiún na Meán, Barry O’Sullivan, Director of Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics and Professor Debbie Ging from Dublin City University. 

The panel gave their views on a range of topics, from how to ensure the upcoming EU AI Act and the existing Digital Services Act provide safeguards for children and young people who are already widely using AI services, to how basic artificial intelligence such as algorithms on platforms are still problematically firehosing test accounts with toxic, polarising content. The panellists considered the technological gaps in our capabilities to constrain and manage open sourced, widely distributed, fragmented artificial intelligence systems and what steps we can take to put in place structures and  organisations which can take on this role. 

Our audience left with a renewed depth of understanding of the complexity and the scale of the challenge facing policy makers, academics and industry leaders in safeguarding society in the face of rapid technological change.

Photography from the AI and Society conference at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. 08/11/2023 Photograph: ©Fran Veale
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