Report Erasmus-Descartes conference on AI

On the 15th and the 16th of November 2018, the Netherlands and France organised a conference on Artificial Intelligence. This conference, called Erasmus-Descartes, gathered over 50 experts and 250 attendees in Paris. The Erasmus-Descartes conference is an annual bilateral event aimed at strengthening existing partnerships and identifying new opportunities for joint action. As the 2017 edition had focused on Big Data, selecting AI as the theme of the 2018 edition was a logical next step.

The event consisted of plenary sessions and thematic workshops. The plenaries had varying topics related to AI: the development of the technology, international perspectives and responsible AI, as well as coding and education and the role and position of start-ups within this disruptive technology. The acquiring and fostering of talent and the triple helix of public-private partnerships emerged as pertinent elements of a healthy AI ecosystem. There is growing interest in the ethical dimensions in the field of AI and on setting guidelines which may facilitate using the technology in a responsible way.

During the event, the topic of AI was divided into three fields of application: health, mobility and culture/arts, which experts and participants explored through interactive workshops. The health workshop focused on the relation between doctors and patients and how AI may improve this, as well as addressing the issue of explicability. Mobility dealt with autonomous driving, related risks and, consequently, safety and security measures. Culture, more specifically arts, shed light on AI’s artistic abilities and possible creative functions and naturally progressed into ethical matters as well.

A group of young talents, prodigies from either French or Dutch universities or institutes connected to the subject of AI, participated in the conference. This emphasised the importance of attracting, fostering and boosting talent aimed at bringing AI forward and upward in Europe. They participated in the plenaries as well as the workshops.

The Netherlands and France are very complementary in knowledge and expertise as partners in AI throughout the entire value chain, both bilaterally and within the EU; from fundamental research to startups and scale-ups. A series of follow-up activities have already been pursued and identified, one of which is the publication of a joint scientific research paper on AI and health, co-written by the speakers of the health workshop.

The full report on the conference, and the conclusions of all sessions, can be found attached to this blog, in PDF.

The article has also been published on the forum of the European AI Alliance, which acts as a multi-stakeholder forum engaged in a broad and open discussion of all aspects of AI development and its impact on the economy and society.

For an overall impression, we invite you to watch the after-movie of the conference: click here or watch below!