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Special Lecture | Mathematics and Computer Science

AI Ethics, Politics and The Unmatched Distinctiveness of Human Power

AI Distinguished Lecture

Abstract: We are at a crossroads, facing a moment of controversy. Somewhere along the path towards the AI and data-driven digital societies we are immersed in today, we lost some of our human power. Silenced, among others, by cyber-libertarian declarations of independence from traditional forms of power and dominance. In fact, what is least human is what we are becoming most familiar with; that which is performed and practiced in increasingly datafied and predictable socio-technical realities. 

This lecture challenges the view of technological solutionism that portrays humans as powerless and flawed. A more nuanced understanding of the relationship between humans and technology is needed to foster a democratic and inclusive society with AI. The first step is to forge an understanding of the potential and distinctness of human power – our capacity to make decisions with reflection, empathy, care, solidarity, among others. By grasping how human power differs fundamentally from the power of AI, our technology politics, and ethics can ensure not only our rights and well-being as individual human beings but also safeguard humanity as a whole, while simultaneously generating alternative AI realities that aim to enhance human power rather than replace it. 

These days international negotiations are taking place to develop a shared rules set” for the global governance of AI ensuring adoption and deployment with human rights and democratic values at its core. The European Union’s (EU) efforts, especially, to position the union of member states globally with a human-centric approach to digitalization and AI through the establishment the EU High-Level Expert Group that developed the EU Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI , policies like the General Data Protection Regulation or the AI Act and the European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles, demonstrate the importance of taking an active role in shaping the future of AI. At the same time, global approaches have been emerging with the UNESCO AI Ethics recommendations now being implemented in countries worldwide, the OECD AI ethics principles, the United Nation’s Global Digital Compact initiative, and important diplomacy activities taking place between likeminded partners, such as the EU-US Technology and Trade Council’s for Trustworthy AI and Risk Management

Humanity needs specific conditions to flourish. A nourishing space symbolically, culturally but also materially making room for and accommodating human values and empowerment. Technology politics and ethics can guide the development of such spaces with a reflective human-centric’ approach. 

Bio: Gry Hasselbalch is an author and scholar with expertise in the fields of data and AI ethics and governance. Currently, she is the Research Lead and Key Expert in AI Ethics for the EU’s International Outreach for a Human-Centric Approach to Artificial Intelligence initiative (InTouchAI​.eu, 2021-September 2023) overseeing the research and evidence base and supporting the European Commission in engaging with international partners on regulatory and ethical matters. Furthermore, she is the Co-founder and Director of academic research at the think tank DataEthics​.eu, which has been active since 2015 in challenging the power dynamics of big tech companies. Gry holds a PhD in data ethics and power from the University of Copenhagen.