Virtual conference: Regulation of AI – Ethical and fundamental rights aspects – 20 July 2021

On 20 July 2021  Equinet board member & Advocate of the Principle of Equality in Slovenia, Miha Lobnik participated in a conference about the ethical and fundamental rights aspects of the artificial intelligence (AI). The event raised ethical questions relating to AI and highlighted the need for a special emphasis on the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms when regulating AI. Lobik provided input on the European perspective panel on what is AI and why regulation matters. For more details on his intervention see speaker's notes below.

About the conference

In the field of justice, the incoming Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is committed to placing a special focus on the protection of fundamental rights in the light of challenges posed by new technologies and the use of the internet. Within this framework the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Slovenia organised a virtual conference on the ethical and fundamental rights aspects of the artificial intelligence (AI).

This conference offered additional perspectives on some of the challenges and risks entailed in the use of AI technology and provided a better understanding of the need to regulate AI. Many activities in the EU and beyond in the last years have led to a high degree of recognition that a specific legal framework will have to be developed for AI in the future in order to ensure humancentric and trustworthy AI technology that serves the public good.

In April 2021 the European Commission presented its long-awaited proposal of the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act), the first ever legal framework on AI. The proposal sets out rules for the development, placement on the market and use of AI systems in the EU, following a risk-based approach. Meanwhile, the CAHAI Committee at the Council of Europe has been addressing the question of feasibility and potential elements of an international legal framework for the development, design and application of AI, based on the Council of Europe standards on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In parallel, other international organisations have developed important soft law instruments relating to AI.

This conference looked at regulatory elements envisaged by the AI Act with an emphasis on the mechanisms and safeguards in place to prevent violations of fundamental rights connected to the development and use of AI technology. The event also took a look at the progress made by the CAHAI Committee in preparing elements for the Council of Europe legal framework. This was an opportunity to compare the approaches of both standard setters, the EU and the Council of Europe as the European approach to AI can become a global inspiration.

This was an inclusive event, providing a stage for other relevant international actors. The OECD and UNESCO presented their vision and work alongside with views from academia and other key stakeholders defending human rights in the context of AI.