Pieter Verdegem delivers keynote speech at the Foundation for European Progressive Studies

26 June 2022


On the 21st June 2022, Pieter Verdegem delivered a keynote speech at the ‘(im)possibility of an island? ethical AI in a geopolitical world‘ event hosted by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies in Barcelona.

Verdegem shared a critical perspective on AI, based on his recently published book, AI for Everyone? Critical Perspectives. During his talk he stated that “We need to ask critical questions such as what is AI and what it is not. Before understanding what kind of AI we want, we need to understand what type of AI we have.” He also went on to discuss the way in which guidelines might be written to support and regualte AI in the future, noting that any it is essential that any panel of experts who are tasked with regulating AI must be representative of our society – “All groups of society should be consulted” he said, “AI should represent everyone”.

Following Verdegem’s talk the event continued with a series of panels. The first panel investigated the EU’s approach to ethical AI, asking can it work in an international context that some call an ‘AI Cold War’? And will the EU’s and other countries’ plans to regulate AI be successful, or will they ‘kill innovation’ as is often heard? This panel punctured some myths. The panel featured among others Brando Benifei, the Co-Rapporteur on the AI Act for the European Parliament, as well as Helena Malikova, Member of the Chief Economist Team of the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission.

The second panel looked beyond regulation. The field of AI is centralised, with a handful of global firms determining the shape of tech development. Asking if another approach is possible? What would facilitate the emergence of an ecosystem of AI firms and NGOs that are aligned with the public interest? What type of industrial policy would this require? The panel featured – among others – Jesús Herrero Poza, the Head of Cabinet of the Spanish State Secretary for Digitalisation and AI, as well as Montse Guardia Güell, Co-founder and CEO of Big Onion Tech.

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Image: Pieter Verdegem