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AI is here to stay – yet it is still in its childhood…

Digital transformation brings great opportunities – and equally big challenges. To tackle problems and design our future digital society, we need to combine knowledge and experiences from different stakeholders. This is exactly what happened at Digitalize in Stockholm on October 19 – 20, 2022.

Watch keynote speakers, panel discussions and project presentations on Digital Futures Youtube playlist Digitalize in Stockholm 2022.


– We know how cobots work at home, but not how they manage big crowds, commented professor Jelena Zdravkovic at the conference. She is Head of Department of Computer and Systems Sciences (DSV) at Stockholm University and Associate Director for Diversity & Inclusion at Digital. AI is here to stay – yet it is still in its childhood. Artificial intelligence can solve small problems but bigger challenges lie ahead, she continued.

Participants from all over the world

– The event’s focus – how we, through digital transformation, have the opportunity to impact our future positively – generated great interest. We had a fantastic audience of over 200 onsite at Kista Nod and participants online from some 26 countries all over the world, said Johanna Gavefalk, Chief Communications Officer at Digital Futures and the organizational chair of the event.

During the two days, international keynote speakers were mixed with panel discussions organized by Skanska, Scania, Ericsson, Region Stockholm, the City of Stockholm with Sensable Stockholm Lab and Karolinska Institutet. In breakout sessions, new research projects and the latest results from ongoing projects were presented.

– Digitalize in Stockholm is a cross-disciplinary event shaped by the people who participate. It’s an opportunity to meet world-leading researchers and to really interact in breakout sessions, said Anna Kiefer, Chief Operating Officer at Digital Futures, when she summarized the conference.

Ethics and integrity

Digital platforms give people access to information, which is often good. But there are negative side effects: hate speech, alternative facts, criminal activity… Several speakers addressed these issues.

– If you thought AI was hard, try doing ethics for a week, said Alon Halevy, Director at Facebook AI, in his keynote. The theme was “Human Values and Integrity in Social Media Recommendations”.

We’re all in this together

Halevy was one of the keynote speakers who were physically present at the conference. He thinks it is crucial to have various stakeholders in the room when discussing the integrity of online networks.

– We need to include people from multiple disciplines and perspectives. It’s important for people from academia to meet people from industry and civil service. We’re all in this together”, said Alon Halevy after the conference. In computer science we’re used to solving problems. But the issues we’re facing here are about tradeoffs, not problems. This is a different mindset, he added.

Tuomas Pöysti, Chancellor of Justice of the Government of Finland, was present during both conference days. The theme of his keynote speech was “Rights by design and default in hybrid architectures – realizing human-centric public service in human-intelligent machine co-work”.

– The main message in my keynote was that in the future, humans will live and work together with intelligent systems. This needs to be regulated by law. To get human friendly AI, we need to plan for an intelligence architecture that includes both humans and machines. AI development is a question of leadership, human resources and procedures, and interaction between humans and information systems”, said Tuomas Pöysti.

Humans will live and work together with intelligent systems

– This calls for fundamental change – a challenge in itself. Will we be able to rapidly develop the knowledge needed? And will we realize the full potential of the digital transformation? It takes patience, systematic work, agility and tolerance to imperfections, according to Pöysti. At events like Digitalize in Stockholm, academia can test the relevance of its research and look for partners in the industry. For government representatives, it’s a good opportunity to meet companies at the forefront of development. Universities, business and the public sector must use the opportunities at hand and develop knowledge and technology further. It is not enough to cooperate, we need to really work together to create something new. This is a more demanding process than cooperation, said Tuomas Pöysti.

In his role as the Finnish Chancellor of Justice, he said he gained some useful contacts and ideas to take home from the conference.

– I got some valuable input to our work with a sustainable constitutional state, an effective democracy, and a future oriented government. In conversations with other participants, I also gained some new ideas on how to deal with imperfections in complex systems, said Tuomas Pöysti.

– Digitalize in Stockholm is a collaboration between people from academia, industry and the public sector! We get inspired, and we learn from each other. This year the networking and getting a chance to mingle onsite was much appreciated, concluded Johanna Gavefalk.

Thanks to Åse Karlén, Stockholm University, for the text and photos.

The conference program, speaker bios, and more are available on the conference website Digitalize in Sthlm 2022.
The event was recorded and is available on Digital Futures Youtube playlist Digitalize in Stockholm 2022.


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