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Slovenia and EU on the path to the safe use of AI

Under the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Ministry of Public Administration and the European Commission are organising a high-level conference on artificial intelligence as a hybrid event on 14 and 15 September 2021 at Brdo pri Kranju. Via an online platform, all interested stakeholders worldwide striving to better understand how to live with AI and how to manage it in the future can participate in the conference.

This is the first official event in which participants are discussing the European legislative package on AI adopted in April this year. The package contains proposals and guidelines on how to develop, adopt and regulate the use of ethical and trustworthy AI in Europe that will be human-centred, built and used for the good of every person and society committed to preserving democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

In his opening address, Minister of Public Administration Boštjan Koritnik pointed out that AI is a priority of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU. "We want to encourage a discussion on how to adequately regulate this area and provide sustainable support for future AI development. We are entering somewhat uncharted territory, and only through wide participation in an open discussion can we gain an understanding of the potential effects of various decisions in the future. This is why this conference will stimulate a discussion on the open questions between policy-makers and leaders in the research community, business sector and civil society. Having conducted research in AI for over 40 years, Slovenia is undoubtedly the right location for such a conference," added Minister Koritnik.

In the national programme for AI adopted by the Slovenian government in May this year, extensive measures to support innovation and the transfer of knowledge from research to application and to coordinate national stakeholders in the development of a dynamic innovation ecosystem are proposed. Slovenia gained international recognition by establishing the first International Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI) under the auspices of UNESCO, which helps countries leverage opportunities, combat AI threats and focus on achieving sustainability objectives. As a founding member, Slovenia has joined the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) for implementing ethical and trustworthy AI in real life. Slovenia also supports the efforts of the Council of Europe as the chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI). An international approach is required to solve AI-related challenges effectively.

The conference covers various aspects of AI. Day one of the conference was mainly dedicated to regulating AI, promoting standardisation, ensuring effective control and regulating stakeholders' responsibility. Globally speaking, the EU is the first to address these questions. On day two, the conference participants will discuss how to create a suitable environment for financing innovation in AI, encourage green AI and support education on new technologies.

In addition to the Minister of Public Administration, the conference features many prominent guests and discussion participants. In a video address, conference attendees were welcomed by Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager, and the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton. The attendees include the Director-General of the Directorate General of Communication, Networks, Content and Technology, Roberto Viola, Slovenian minister for Digital Transformation, Mark Boris Andrijanič, and Slovenian Associate Professor at Standford University, Dr Jure Leskovec. The lessons learned at the conference will serve as a guide for future activities in AI, both at the national and the EU level.