Institute of the Weltethos Foundation
at the University of Tübingen

First slide

Does AI help or harm?

tiero / Adobe Stock

On April 25, we hosted Prof. Dr. Peter G. Kirchschläger, Director of the Institute for Social Ethics ISE at the University of Lucerne, at the Global Ethic Institute to discuss the impact of new technologies on society with him, Institute Director Prof. Dr. Dr. Ulrich Hemel and Dr. Katja Duckek (World Citizen School). At a time when artificial intelligence applications are rapidly finding their way into our world, ethical questions are becoming more urgent than ever.

These include issues such as accountability, data protection, discrimination and transparency, among many others. For example, how does AI affect social trust and cooperation? Who bears responsibility when machine systems make mistakes or have undesirable consequences? What international standards and agreements are needed to regulate human rights-related aspects of AI?

These and other questions were addressed in different ways in short presentations by the three panelists.

Professor Kirchschläger emphasized, among other things, that serious human rights violations are currently occurring time and again through the use of AI, with some companies occasionally even making a profit through anti-human rights practices. In order to regulate this, the ethicist is campaigning for an AI authority at the United Nations, similar to the anti-nuclear authority. His International Data-based Systems Agency (IDA) is to be created at the UN as a platform for technical cooperation in the field of data-based systems in order to promote human rights, sustainability, security and the peaceful use of data-based systems and to serve as a global supervisory institution, regulatory and market approval authority in the field of data-based systems. As recently as mid-April, it emerged as the winner of over 1,000 entries for the UN’s “World Summit on the Information Society Prize”.

Professor Hemel, in turn, focused on the global ethics perspective: How can we ensure that AI developers are better sensitized to ethical opportunities and risks? In this context, he presented the Global Ethic Institute’s cooperation initiative with Cyber Valley, which is committed to promoting a professional ethic in the field of AI. This also includes an awareness of the ecological and social consequences of new technologies. As an example, he cited Kyrgyzstan, a country whose electricity consumption has risen so dramatically due to international Bitcoin mining that private and public households are affected by regular and sometimes massive power cuts. This also regularly leads to political tensions and shows what impact the global AI economy can have in some places.

Katja Duckek also outlined the opportunities created by generative AI in particular, such as Chat GPT or other tools. Some work processes can be shortened and improved by using the technology like an “Einstein in the basement”. There is therefore an urgent need to see the potential and, at the same time, to educate schools about what AI can do and what critical skills humans need. So far, according to Duckek, not enough has been done in this regard.