Brussels – 18 June 2018 – The European Humanist Federation took part in a High-level meeting organised by the European Commission with non-confessional organisations concerning the recent Communication of the Commission on Artificial Intelligence for Europe. Vice-President Andrus Ansip was present at the meeting.
While the EHF commended the European Commission’s ambition to ensure that citizens acquire the necessary skills to use AI and that an appropriate legal and ethical framework is set up, it emphasised the need to keep humans in the centre of decision-making, both at the individual level as well as at the level of society as a whole.
As humanists, we will always stand with those who innovate, as far as technological progress results in more freedom and more equality for Humanity. This implies that citizens must retain their capacity for self-determination: they must therefore have the means to make both theoretical and practical choices when it comes to AI.
said Henri Bartholomeeusen, President of the Centre d’Action Laïque, an EHF Member organization.
As technology’s role is to implement choices the principles of which were determined by humans, participants warned that it is important that future developments make sure that AI does not take over in making decisions that concern or bypass autonomy, human dignity, moral responsibility, justice, equality, solidarity, democracy, the rule of law or physical or mental integrity.
Transparency is fundamental for unleashing the value of artificial intelligence. We have to ensure that no third party interest interferes with fundamental AI decisions such as patient treatments. The autonomy of humans has to remain in the center.
said EHF Vice-President Michael Bauer.
Finally, beyond the already well-commented contribution made by algorithms used by social media to polarization of opinions in society, the general public is not yet aware enough of the fact that artificial intelligence can also reinforce other negative trends present in society.
Algorithms carry the risk of reinforcing already existing discriminations. Many examples exist where, based on the learning data they receive from their users or society, AI systems bias towards certain systems of values and stereotypes present on e.g. social media, whether these comply with our societies’ foundational principles or not.
said Giulio Ercolessi, President of the European Humanist Federation.
The EHF was also invited to join the European Artificial Intelligence Alliance, a platform bringing together a diverse set of participants, including businesses, consumer organisations, trade unions and representatives of civil society bodies to dicsuss the future of AI in Europe.
In this framework, the EHF will closely follow the development of the AI ethics guidelines announced
by the Commission in its communication so that Europe harnesses the tremendous potential of this promising technology while ensuring that this potential benefits the whole of society.
The meeting was organized in the framework of Article 17 TFEU which commits the EU to maintaining an open, transparent and regular dialogue with religious and non-confessional organistions.
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