Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia Tirana /Newsroom /
02.04.2021  

The launch event of IRCAI

On March 29 and 30, a launch event of the International Research Center on Artificial Intelligence under the auspices of UNESCO - IRCAI, which was founded by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and has its headquarters at the Jožef Stefan Institute was held. Over 1000 registered individuals from more than 50 countries attended and were addressed by esteemed speakers on the first day of the event.

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Borut Pahor emphasized in his speech that the establishment of IRCAI in Ljubljana is a great recognition for Slovenian researchers and the Jožef Stefan Institute who have been working on artificial intelligence in Slovenia for several decades. According to President Pahor, artificial intelligence is a tool for a better life and offers great opportunities "for progress, for more accessible and efficient public services, quality education and better access to information, and helps us tackle climate change, introduce new forms of mobility and use energy more efficiently."

The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Ms Audrey Azoulay, who attended the event live from Paris, regretted that she could not be there live as originally planned and welcomed IRCAI to the UNESCO family. "IRCAI has become a space that directs academic and human resources to research topics within the mandate of UNESCO, which, as you know, includes education, culture, science and information," adding that despite the large number of UNESCO centers, none yet deals with artificial intelligence. "Thanks to IRCAI, we now have the support of an entire team that is directing its diverse skills to ensure that artificial intelligence is used in a way that serves the common good. We are fortunate to have an ally like this to help make our ambitions reality," she added, explaining the important role IRCAI played in drafting the UNESCO Recommendation on Ethical Artificial Intelligence and personally thanking the team for its efforts in leading the regional consultation on the draft recommendation. "In our , we have already had a glimpse of the potential of this partnership. This inauguration is therefore very promising," she concluded.

The Minister of Education, Science and Sport of Slovenia, Prof Simona Kustec stressed the importance of cooperation in creating opportunities to address current challenges, including with the help of artificial intelligence, and called on all participants to work together. The Minister of Public Administration of Slovenia, Mr Boštjan Koritnik stressed that "Slovenia aims for high quality and ethical use of artificial intelligence that citizens can trust" and emphasized that artificial intelligence will be one of the main priorities during Slovenia's EU Presidency.

The development of artificial intelligence in Slovenia was also highlighted by prof. Boštjan Zalar, Director of the Jožef Stefan Institute, who stressed that the Institute has a 40-year history in the development of artificial intelligence, over 70 major projects in various departments of the Institute and that in his opinion IRCAI can further strengthen these achievements.

Support for IRCAI was further expressed by the representative of European Commission with which IRCAI has many strategic synergies. Anthony Whelan, Digital Policy Adviser from the cabinet of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted that "it is indeed a nice coincidence that the Slovenian Presidency is preparing to work with such an excellent asset on its doorstep, and we hope that this will also serve as a flagship for international efforts. "

The course of events leading up to the establishment of IRCAI and the results of the Center's work to date were presented by its Director, Prof. John Shawe-Taylor. "IRCAI has already established active cooperation with a wide range of international organizations, which it intends to further strengthen and expand," he said in his speech. Among other things, he called for active participation through projects listed on the Center's website.

The second part of the opening event focused on building a global artificial intelligence community in a panel discussion that included several speakers from African countries. The second day of the event was focused on IRCAI's presentations of its outputs from activities, opportunities for collaboration, and the use of artificial intelligence tools that support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, developed with the support of IRCAI program committees.