Among the thirteen distinguished speakers who had been invited were Katalin Karikó, Hervé Chneiweiss, Mauro Ferrari, Cato Laurencin, Barbara Prainsack, Bruno Siciliano, and Judit Sandor. The scholars and researchers had an opportunity to meet Pope Francis in person who gave an important introductory speech on how emerging technologies should serve the common good of humankind.
Professor Sándor gave a presentation on “The Role of Human Rights in Regulating Convergent New Technologies.” In her speech, she explored and analyzed the legal responses to the key emerging technologies of genome editing and artificial intelligence. Whenever new technologies emerge, legal reactions to them usually take two, contrasting forms. One view holds that it is better to wait and see how the stakeholders and the market work out proper, safe, and ethical ways to apply the technology. The other approach calls for immediate regulation, accreditation, and licensing – which, mostly, cover the mere technical elements of the innovation. Prof. Sándor argued for a third position in her speech. She emphasized that regulations should focus on the ethical challenges and social consequences of introducing new technologies and a human rights approach may assist in avoiding the misuse of technological advances. Human rights are based on an international consensus and claim universal principles, such as equal dignity for all. Of course, the interpretation of these principles and norms is not always evident. But human rights principles serve as compasses that help to find the best ways of protecting people’s life, dignity, and safety, respecting their privacy, and preventing their unlawful discrimination. Moreover, new human rights norms may also develop in reaction to the threats posed by new technologies, such as discrimination, hacking or spying, manipulation, or fraud. When threats and risks are analyzed, one can notice that these could be easily transformed into opportunities and remedies. Human rights may help to assess the changes that new technology may bring to us. Human rights may assist in determining the benefits and disadvantages of technological innovations. For instance, while artificial intelligence may be useful in analyzing big data, it makes many services impersonal. She compared the development of the laws on emerging technologies and suggested better communication between bio and technoethics.
This was a memorable and important conference that analyzed the global challenges of various emerging technologies, highlighted ethical responses to these challenges, and fostered the dissemination of these responses to policymakers and the general public throughout the world.