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Collage of photos from the Harmonising Privacy and AI across the Cloud-Edge Continuum High-Level Conference
Monday, 8th April 2024

A month ago, the GLACIATION project organised a pivotal discussion on the convergence of AI, privacy, and the cloud-edge continuum, hosted by GLACIATION partner University College Cork. Set against the backdrop of the historic University and offering hybrid participation, the conference delivered a wealth of insights on the delicate equilibrium between the progress of AI and the preservation of privacy.

The Event

The GLACIATION event delved into the complex risks and rewards associated with the swift uptake of AI across diverse sectors. In an age where AI's voracious appetite for data is ever-increasing, the conference underscored the imperative for meticulous privacy safeguards, especially considering the strict demands of regulations such as the GDPR.

Central to the discussions was the GLACIATION solution, particularly its approach to the use of AI, which highlighted transparent, ethical, and people-focused usage that actually bolsters privacy protections while also ensuring the greater sustainability of data movement and operations.

The GLACIATION Lens on AI and Privacy

John O'Halloran, President of University College Cork, set the stage with a vivid analogy that likened the natural process of glaciation to the evolutionary trajectory of edge computing. He evoked Ireland's glacial history as a symbol of the dynamic progress pursued by the GLACIATION project.

Roberta Lotti, the GLACIATION Project Coordinator, contributed a well-rounded view of AI in public services, advocating for AI's potential as a force for social good – just like any other tool, whether it is used for good or bad depends on the actor wielding it.

Industry insights were provided by Dell VP Regional CIO EMEA, Bob Savage, who illuminated the company's initiatives in safeguarding privacy as well as its vision for the incorporation of AI and other cutting-edge technologies across various sectors.

Barry Sullivan, a renowned AI policy expert, employed a memorable metaphor, comparing generative AI to an omniscient bar patron, to describe the technology. In particular, the idea is that generative AI can provide accurate answers but it too is prone to AI hallucinations, invented information feigning itself as real.

Pierangela Samarati, a privacy expert from the University of Milan, highlighted the dangers to privacy of personal data across the edge cloud continuum as well as spotlighting the GLACIATION project's solution as an indispensable tool for capitalising on edge technology in a privacy-conscious manner.

Insights from Panel Experts

A diverse panel, including Niamh O'Mahony, Donna O'Shea, Marc O'Regan, Jerry Sweeney, and Javad Chamanara, engaged in a profound discourse on the risks and socio-economic benefits of AI. The conversation covered sensitive topics such as data protection, discrimination, and bias. Donna O'Shea outlined the privacy threats posed by AI, while Marc O'Regan emphasised the untapped benefits AI offers to various sectors and society at large. 

Niamh O'Mahony called for a balanced approach, recognising AI's vast potential alongside the inherent risks to privacy, discrimination, and bias. Jerry Sweeney's poignant analogy, truly a highlight of the event, likened feeding data to AI to telling your children that Santa Claus does not exist - it's something you can never take back. Javad Chamanara adeptly positioned the GLACIATION solution in the midst of this debate, portraying it as a responsibly adopted technology with the potential to significantly benefit Europeans and others worldwide.

Stay Tuned

The high-level conference emerged as more than just an academic gathering; it was a resounding call to align the development of AI with our fundamental right to privacy, all within the ambit of sustainable progress. With the GLACIATION project a paradigmatic example of such an approach.