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Separating AI fact from fiction at the AI & Society Conference

Researchers and policymakers are welcome to attend the AI & Society Conference in The Hague on Friday 23 June. The SAILS interdisciplinary research programme will be taking a nuanced look at the state of the art of AI technology. And offering fresh perspectives.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) provides inspiration galore for dreamers and doomsayers alike. The free AI & Society conference aims to separate AI fact from fiction amid all the fierce debate. The SAILS (Society, Artificial Intelligence & Life Sciences) research programme is interdisciplinary, which means Leiden’s researchers will be able to consider the impact of AI technology from every possible perspective. ‘We think it’s important to share this knowledge, particularly now there is so much commotion about AI’, says co-organiser and researcher Anne Meuwese.

Obsolete jobs

She gives the familiar example of ChatGPT: useful tool or language model that will make masses of jobs obsolete? ‘We have to see ChatGPT for what it is: a tool that writes texts based on existing online sources. And yes, the tool will become much better in the future at finding sources and making links. But it can’t create original new data. Experts think there is a limit to the extent to which ChatGPT can be improved.’ ChatGPT and other large language models will be covered extensively at the conference.

Positive uses

And Meuwese stresses that it is important to focus on the positive ways AI can be put to use in society. ‘Promoting diversity in society, for instance. We’re devoting a separate panel to that at the conference.’ These are the kinds of nuances and new perspectives that will emerge during the conference.

Cutting edge

The event is primarily intended for policymakers, academics and people who work in the world of AI in the wider sense. ‘But everyone is welcome. A broad societal discussion about AI is what is needed’, Meuwese adds. What can visitors expect? ‘A fresh perspective – what exactly is going on in all the subfields of AI? And specific options for the balance that many professionals in this sector are struggling with: the balance between using innovations and being aware of developments in society.’

Meuwese, a professor and, among others, a researcher into EU legislation on AI, sees policy makers in the Netherlands struggling with the timing of AI legislation. ‘Many of them are finding it difficult to know what they themselves can do right now while negotiations are taking place on the AI Act in Brussels and the AI Treaty in Strasbourg. You need a good idea of the state of the art of AI to make these decisions. And that is what we will be offering at this conference.’ The same state of the art is obviously also important for academics within and outside Leiden University. They can be sure of discussions at the cutting edge of science, with plenty of time for more in-depth discussions during panels and networking opportunities.

Meuwese is looking forward to the different perspectives on AI that will emerge during the conference. ‘AI is seeping into more and more organisations. Kathleen Ferrier from UNESCO will be speaking too. I can’t wait to hear her perspective. I hope to have a better picture of all the views on AI by the end of the day.’

AI & Society conference

When: Friday 23 June, 13:00-17:00
Where: Wijnhaven, The Hague
More information and registration: https://aiandsociety.nl/


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