AI and Blockchain for Good: Harnessing Technological Developments to Foster Trust

Published 13 July 2018

On 5 July 2018, the Asser Institute hosted an event on ‘Artificial Intelligence & Blockchain for Good: Using Technology to Foster Trust’, organised in cooperation with the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). Panellists discussed how artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies (BT), two of the most promising, complex and fast advancing current technological developments, can be harnessed in order to foster trust in the legal and political institutions and structures that govern our interconnected world and to advance social and economic development issues.

In their welcome addresses, Professor Janne Nijman (Academic Director, Asser Institute) and Irakli Beridze (UNICRI) both highlighted the importance of multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholders approaches when engaging with the promises and challenges of advanced technologies.

Toufi Saliba (Global ACM Chair Practitioners Board CC and co-author of Toda Protocol) delivered the keynote lecture, in which he explained BT and the benefits of its implementation on a wider scale. He noted that centralised AI can lead to subjugation, while in combination with BT, decentralising technology, it can result in prosperity.

The keynote was followed by three cross-reflections. Catelijne Muller (EU High Level Expert Group on AI) approached AI from a policy perspective and made clear that humans must always stay in control of advanced technologies.

Dr Haye Hazenberg (TUDelft) approached the subject matter from an ethical and philosophical perspective. Referring to Thomas Hobbes and Karl Marx, he warned against centralised and potentially authoritarian technologies and called for a democratisation of advanced technology. Dr Berenice Boutin (Asser Institute) discussed how international law can benefit from AI and BT, and elaborated on the role that international law has to play in the regulation of advanced technologies.

The presentations were followed by a lively Q&A session moderated by Dr Geoff Gordon (Asser Institute). The diverse audience engaged with the panellists on a variety of issues related to AI and BT.

Professor Ernst Hirsch Ballin (President of the Board, Asser Institute) closed the event with concluding words stressing the importance of human rights and multidisciplinary approaches. 

The event was followed by a networking reception sponsored by The Hague Convention Bureau.

What do AI and BT mean? 
Artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies are two of the most promising, complex, and fast-advancing current technological developments. ‘Artificial intelligence’ refers to computer systems that exhibit abilities to perform problem-solving, predictive analysis, and other cognitive tasks. ‘Blockchain’ refers to decentralised cryptographic technologies notably used in the context of cryptocurrencies, and which offer new possibilities to record, verify, and act on information. Combined, these two technological developments could lead to unprecedented positive changes.