Thursday, November 19th

All times in CET

4:00-4:05 PM – Welcome

Hannes Werthner (TU Wien, Austria)

4:05-5:15Educating for a Humanistic Digital Future

In the light of the huge societal impact of digital technologies in the last 20 years a reflection is needed on whether the content of informatics education needs a revision. It might be the case that now we have to prepare students for their future work by providing them with the attitude of a “medical doctor”, who has her feet well rooted in science (and technology) but whose ultimate goal is to heal and to ensure the well-being of people. This does not imply to renounce to prepare them as “engineers” which translate specifications in systems, working as planned because designed on scientific basis, but that more and more these systems are of interdisciplinary nature and require an appreciation of issues going beyond the traditional areas of informatics.
Therefore it might be the case that our students, beyond knowing about algorithms and automata, networks and concurrency, should also be educated in human and social disciplines.
This would probably apply not only to higher education, but also to school education and, more in general, to education of every citizen. How can we prepare the everyday person to understand how informatics is changing the world if we do not teach them the constraints and the effects our science and the related technologies have?
The panel will debate this issue, how to educate for the digital future, considering it from three different viewpoints.

Panelists: Randy Connolly (Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada), Lorella Zanardo (Activist & Writer, Italy), Johanna Seibt (Aarhus University, Denmark)
Moderator: Enrico Nardelli (University of Roma ‘Tor Vergata’, Italy & President of Informatics Europe)
Slides: Johanna Seibt, Lorella Zanardo

5:15-5:30 – Break

5:30-6:45AI Developments in Europe

Europe wants to lead the way in AI- developments based on shared ethics and European values so citizens and businesses can fully trust the technologies that are used. The European Commission launched the AI Alliance two years ago in parallel with the High-Level Expert Group on AI following the publication of the European AI Strategy. Published on 19 February 2020, the EC White Paper on Artificial Intelligence proposes a common European ecosystem of excellence and trust in AI with measures fostering investment for AI development and deployment and policy options for an EU regulatory framework with a particular focus on high-risk applications. The European Parliament is driving forward both a European vision and European policy for AI. AI related issues are covered by a number of standing Committees such as the Committee on Legal Affairs, the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the Committee on Transport and Tourism. Notably, a Special Committee on AI for the Digital Age (AIDA) has been launched in last September with the mandate of elaborating recommendations concerning the deployment of AI in Europe and its contribution to business value and economic growth.
Does the “human-centric” approach to AI proposed by the European institutions necessarily require a new binding legislative framework? What is the right balance between fostering AI in Europe, supporting the competitiveness of the European businesses while at the same time protecting European values and principles? What are the implications of unbridled AI development and deployment for our European democracies? Is a regulatory framework for high-risk technologies compatible with the European ambition of being a front-runner in AI development and a leading player in the geopolitical arena? These and related questions on how Europe should deal with Artificial Intelligence will be discussed by distinguished experts and policy-makers in this panel.

Panelists: Anu Bradford (Columbia University, USA), Shada Islam (Independent Advisor & Strategist, Europe), Marietje Schaake (Stanford University, USA), Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou (Member of the European Parliament)
Moderator: George Metakides (President of Digital Enlightenment Forum, Visiting Professor, University of Southampton)
Slides: Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou

Friday, November 20th

4:00-5:15Resilience and Sustainability

The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated that much of our digital infrastructure on which societies increasingly depends is brittle. With its optimization for efficiency, it breaks down under perturbation. This panel will address the risks, and also the opportunities to harness technology to enhance both resilience and sustainability. Perturbations will occur, many of them self generated.
Edward Lee will consider the trajectory of information technologies as they move beyond the world of information into the physical world, becoming autonomous vehicles, automated factories, robotic caregivers, etc. Gaining the ability to sense and act in the physical world is a huge step for computers. The risks and opportunities are enormous.
Moshe Vardi will address the trade-off between efficiency and resilience. He will argue that both computer science and economics have put too much emphasis on efficiency, at the expense of resilience.
Eric Masanet will will consider the broader sustainability implications of ICT systems, the tension between direct and avoided impacts, and the prospects for technological improvements to counterbalance increased societal demand for digital services.

Panelists: Edward A. Lee (UC Berkeley, USA), Moshe Y. Vardi (Rice University, USA), Eric Masanet (UC Santa Barbara, USA)
Moderator: Sally Wyatt (Maastricht University, The Netherlands)
Slides: Eric Masanet

5:15-5:30 – Break

5:30-6:45International Initiatives towards a Humanistic Digital Future

Digital humanism is becoming a focus for lively discussions and novel initiatives worldwide. The debate is spreading across areas, breaking the traditional fences built to delimit academic disciplines and even the wall that sometimes separates academia from society. New initiatives are launched in almost all parts of the world, and it is hard at this stage to put them in a common framework. The goal of this panel is to start building this framework, by presenting a few representative–and by all means not exhaustive– “case studies” from Europe and the US, with some lessons learned.
Marcel Broersma will present the Digital Society research program, a joint effort of all 14 Dutch universities. In this program, 30 leading professors work with postdoctoral fellows and PhD students to address the many pressing questions raised by the emergence of a digital society. The program aims to find solutions to global challenges how digitalisation transforms how we communicate and socialise; how we work, learn, stay healthy and participate in politics and the economy. Digitalisation promises tremendous benefits; for better health, more efficient mobility, efficient energy use, and flourishing companies. Yet it also raises complex challenges: new divides around access to and control of data; what it means to be human when we share the world with sophisticated artificial intelligences; identifying knowledge and truth amongst the deluge of information. To address these issues, social scientists and humanities scholars collaborate with computer- and data scientists in the Digital Society program.
Viola Schiaffonati will present the case of META, an interdisciplinary network of scholars from engineering, architecture and design departments at Politecnico di Milano with expertise in the humanities and social sciences. This is an initiative in a technical university, traditionally only focusing on science and technology, to blend contributions from humanities and social sciences into teaching and research.
Michele Elam (Stanford University) will present the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), a multidisciplinary research hub at Stanford University that focuses on research, education and policy driven by a commitment to promoting human-centered uses of AI. Among its core values is a commitment to ensuring that humanity benefits from the technology, and that those benefits are broadly shared. Therefore, although HAI is a non-partisan institute, we appreciate that issues of diversity and equity must be considered in both the design and impact of these technologies. We also recognize that truly integrating humanities, arts, and social sciences–that include but also beyond questions of ethics–with technology fields of inquiry, so necessary if we to cultivate the humane in AI development and application, remains an ongoing collaborative project and aspiration.
Paul Timmers, a representative of the Digital Enlightenment Forum, will provide an overview of the priorities over the last decade, latest initiatives and synergy with Digital Humanism.
The discussion that can originate might then focus on how can different experiences be collected, classified, and shared to amplify their potential to reach the goals of digital humanism.

Panelists: Viola Schiaffonati (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Marcel Broersma (University of Groningen, The Netherlands), Michele Elam (Stanford University, USA), Paul Timmers (Digital Enlightenment Forum)
Moderator: Carlo Ghezzi (Politecnico di Milano, Italy)
Slides: Viola Schiaffonati