AGE joined citizen debate on artificial intelligence at beEU final event

On 25th May, a report presenting the results of a citizen panel on artificial intelligence (AI) was presented and debated in Brussels, in the presence of Belgian and European politicians, representatives of civil society and tech companies. AGE pointed out some potential risks in relation to social inclusion and non-discrimination.

“AI holds great potential, (…)  but we should ensure we leave no one behind and we create transparent places to discuss it.”

Sharing fears and hopes across generations

Over three weekends from February to April 2024, 60 Belgian citizens from all generations, randomly selected to represent a diverse cross-section of provinces and backgrounds, were invited to discuss and deliberate on AI development within the EU, expressing their concerns, policy actions needed and hopes for the future of AI. This process called ‘citizen panel on artificial intelligence’ was designed as part of the Belgian presidency of the European Union (EU) in 2024.

The work of this panel was collected in a report, which features 9 key messages aimed at contributing to Belgian and EU policy on AI. These messages highlighted the current public sentiment towards AI, outlining a vision for its future development. The emphasis is on fostering a responsible, ambitious, and beneficial approach to AI, ensuring the technology serves everyone.

Dragos Tudorache, member of the European Parliament and co-rapporteur of the AI Act (the first-ever legal framework on AI), was also present and emphasised that now is the time to “establish Europe as a leader in protecting fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law and environmental sustainability from high-risk AI, while boosting innovation”. The rest of the world is watching us”, he added.

The 9 key messages from citizens

The key messages from the report (consult the full report here) were presented by the citizens themselves:

  1. Work: AI should assist people without replacing them.
  2. Education: Invest in current and future generations to equip them with the skills to handle AI. Protect creativity and artists.
  3. Economic System and Power Relations: Encourage a fresh perspective on how AI can reshape these dynamics.
  4. Scientific Research and Innovation: Capitalize on unprecedented opportunities.
  5. Environment: Balance AI’s potential solutions with its ecological footprint.
  6. Misinformation: Address the serious risks posed by deepfakes and unreliable information to democracy.
  7. EU’s Global Position: Advocate for investment, protection, and promotion of European values.
  8. Global Agreements: Position the EU as a leader in forging global AI agreements.
  9. Human Element: Maintain human oversight and contact as foundational principles in AI development.

Considering the impact of new emerging technologies on older individuals, we highlighted three critical issues in relation to AI:

  • Digital Exclusion: Rapid digitalization risks further marginalizing a part of the older population, exacerbating social inequalities, isolation, and digital illiteracy.
  • New Technologies in Care: While promising to enhance well-being, these technologies also pose potential ethical risks that must not be overlooked.
  • Ageism: Often subtle and hidden, ageism must be considered a significant risk. The quality of datasets, training methods, and implementation of new technologies are crucial in addressing this issue.

What is next?

Policymakers and the Belgian presidency committed to following  up the citizens’ voice. All the speakers agreed on the importance of pushing all level of governments, especially EU member states to put the AI act into practice and ensure no one behind is left behind in the digital transition. Action should also be taken in building trust on the development of AI in Europe and empowering citizens on how to best use it.

Artificial intelligence, with its machine learning algorithms and automated decision-making capabilities, presents both new opportunities and significant concerns. AGE remains committed to highlighting these issues to ensure AI development benefits older persons and promotes inclusivity and equity across all age groups.



Julia Wadoux

Policy Manager on Healthy Ageing and Accessibility

Related news

Skip to content