The two-day conference on Artificial Intelligence and the next generation of competencies was organized by the European Chair on Intellectual Capital, the University of Paris-Sud and UNESCO's intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP) from 11 to 12 July 2019 at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, France.
The 15th edition of the World Conference on Intellectual Capital for Communities highlighted the importance of human capacity building as a critical element in efforts to ensure employability. Professor Etienne Augé, Vice-president of the University of Paris-Sud, opened the Conference by underlining the importance of the topic for research and educational purposes and expressed the willingness of the university in contributing towards a digital agenda that takes full account of the value of Artificial Intelligence.
Addressing the participants at the opening session, Dr Boyan Radoykov, from the Knowledge Societies Division of UNESCO, underscored that Artificial Intelligence generates a substantial potential for accelerating human progress in all areas and that it will provide unprecedented opportunities for boosting sustainable development. “I am especially hopeful that Artificial Intelligence will be of great value in our relentless struggle against "natural imbecility", namely by harnessing technological and scientific advances so as to ensure both universal access to information and knowledge and quality education for all, in order to meet the commitments for a brighter and peaceful future for the next generations”, he added.
Professor Ahmed Bounfour, Holder of the European Chair on Intellectual capital and scientific Director for the Conference stressed the large potential for Artificial Intelligence to global economic activity and how it will affect job creation and the development of competencies.
Several countries are already addressing the dynamics of Artificial intelligence through their national strategies. Maxim Fedorov, Director of the Skoltech Center for Computational and Data-Intensive Science and Engineering from the Russian Federation presented the Russian Federation’s National Program «Digital economy of Russian Federation», where human resources for digital economy is one of the pillars of the national programme. The Russian Federation was the country in focus of this year’s Conference and a dedicated session looked at digital equality and its challenges and opportunities in the country.
The multidisciplinary conference discussed the evolution of the digital economy and its impact on the labour market. Artificial intelligence will certainly affect jobs but more likely in the form of transforming activities rather than in massive destruction of jobs. However, there is a need for the development of new technological, cognitive and interactive competencies. According to Moez Chakchouk, Assistant Director-General Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO, there is a need to enrich and diversify the labour force so that enterprises and organizations can rapidly adopt and diffuse new technologies such as Artificial intelligence.
The United Nations is also assisting in establishing learning and training policies and programmes in applying Artificial intelligence to education and preparing learners for Artificial intelligence. Doreen Bogdan Martin Director at the Telecommunication Development Bureau, through a video message highlighted the importance of multi-stakeholder and multilateral cooperation in the field of Artificial intelligence. According to the Report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation entitled The Age of Digital Interdependence, one can only capture the power of digital technologies if there is cooperation “on the broader ecosystems that enable digital technologies to be used in an inclusive manner”.
Dorothy Gordon, the Chair of the Information for All Programme closed the meeting by calling for more research to understand the full impact of emerging technologies such as Artificial intelligence in current societies. IFAP is an ideal platform to debate such issues but also to formulate innovative knowledge society policies and strategies, based on experiences from Member States. Investing in the development of ethical and human-centered AI will ensure that it is possible to meet the challenges and opportunities of AI today, tomorrow and in the future.
The Information for All Programme (IFAP) was established in 2001 to provide a platform for international cooperation in the area of access to information and knowledge for the participation of all in the knowledge societies. IFAP is a unique UNESCO intergovernmental programme that focuses on ensuring that all people have access to information they can use to improve their lives. The IFAP Bureau consists of eight Member States nominated by the governing Council. It meets twice a year to appraise, select and approve projects as well as to hold thematic debates on issues of importance for the Programme.