AI Axial Moment: From history’s lessons to future AI governance

05 September 2023


Event description

Join us for the webinar on 5th September (14.00 CEST | 12.00 UTC) when Jovan Kurbalija will delineate a bridge between the past discussed in ‘Recycling Ideas’ and the future of AI governance.

We have come to the end of our summer journey of ‘Recycling ideas’. We gathered ideas, concepts, and traditions that can help us build a social contract for the AI era. Building on these rich traditions and beliefs across cultures and centuries,  we would be better equipped to address AI governance ahead of us. 

In September, AI governance debates will jump-start during the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York, closed door US Senate Session, Washington, D.C, and debates in capitals worldwide. 

We will enter an Axial age analogous to one that happened, according to German philosopher Karl Jasper, from 8 BC to 1 AD. He named this period ‘Axial Age’ as a time when “the spiritual cornerstones of humanity were established, both simultaneously and independently, through a plethora of religions and philosophical systems: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism in India; Taoism and Confucianism in China; Zoroastrianism in Persia; the teachings of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle in Greece; Judaism and Christianity in the Middle East; and Ubuntu in Africa. Collectively, these belief systems forged a societal ‘operating system’ that continues to run our society until our time.

Now, as we stand at another pivotal moment, we must delve deep into this heritage to grapple with looming questions:

Will AI usurp human agency? Can humans retain the reins of our civilisation’s ‘mission control’? Will our age-old moral compass, which distinguishes right from wrong, endure in a digital age? And what must we do to ensure both technological and societal evolution?

Our quest for these answers might herald a new Axial Age that reshapes our understanding of human existence and the fabric of society.

Conversations in households, academic forums, religious assemblies, and political venues are shaping the foundations of the AI Axial Age. They touch upon our purpose, identity, and ethics.