HKBU international symposium sparks discussions on AI’s impact on humanities and society

Thursday, 21 March 2024

The International Symposium on Humanities, Societies and Digital Futures, organised by the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Social Sciences at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), kicked off today (21 March) at the Hong Kong Palace Museum.

The two-day symposium, supported by the Hung Hin Shiu Charitable Foundation, gathers prominent experts from the academic, business, NGO and technology sectors around the world to discuss the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) from the perspectives of humanities and society.

In line with its strategic direction in transdisciplinary education and research, and the recent adoption of a new research cluster of Humanities and Cultures, HKBU is dedicated to fostering the development of technologies guided by the humanities, and exploring the potential of technologies for pushing the frontiers of the creative and inquisitive mind. The symposium showcases the University’s efforts in sparking discussions in Hong Kong and the region on the impact of AI on the humanities and society.

The opening ceremony of the symposium was honoured by the presence of Professor Sun Dong, Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry of the HKSAR Government, and Professor James Tang Tuck-hong, Secretary-General of the University Grants Committee as officiating guests together with Dr Clement Chen, Chairman of the Council and the Court, and Professor Alex Wai, President and Vice-Chancellor of HKBU.

In his welcome address, Dr Clement Chen said: “HKBU sees itself as a pivotal force in preparing the next generation in the face of an ever-evolving world. Our mission is to cultivate a vibrant ecosystem where faculty members and students from different disciplines converge to innovate and create impactful change. We have taken the initiative to transcend academic boundaries and initiate discussions on various intellectual journeys, encompassing areas such as education, ethics, and more.”

Professor Alex Wai said: “HKBU organised this symposium in view of the rapid emergence and development of digital technologies such as AI, which has brought unprecedented opportunities and challenges to our lives. Scholars and experts from all over the world were invited to bring together ideas and wisdom from the East and the West to explore together the impact of AI on the future of mankind in terms of ethics, societies, economic development and education.”

At the symposium, distinguished keynote speakers addressed numerous hot topics including the nexus of AI, ethics, and the humanities, scrutinising the effects of AI on society, culture, the economy, the future business world as well as education.

Dr Albert Chau, Vice-President (Teaching and Learning) and Acting Dean of Arts of HKBU, said that given AI technology has rapidly become more mature, it is critical for society to urgently examine its impact in ways which transcend sectoral, cultural and geographical boundaries. With this symposium, HKBU hopes to raise concerns, spark discussions and explore solutions regarding the advancement of AI.

Professor Daniel Lai, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of HKBU, said that the organisation of this symposium represents HKBU’s proactive support to Hong Kong in spearheading the development of AI in the region and beyond.  By bringing together industry leaders and experts from diverse sectors, HKBU wishes to shed light on the multifaceted interactions between humanities, society and digital technologies, and offer new perspectives for humanities, cultural development and international exchanges.

The symposium features prominent keynote speakers from around the world, including Professor Carl Wieman, 2020 Yidan Prize and 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics laureate, Cheriton Family Professor and Professor of Physics and of Education, Emeritus, Stanford University; Dr Wayne Holmes, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education and Society, University College London; Ms Kay Firth-Butterfield, Former Director, World Economic Forum, and CEO, Good Tech Advisory; Mr Tian Feng, Dean, SenseTime Intelligent Industry Research Institute, and Co-Director, Centre for Computational Law and AI Ethics Research, Shanghai Jiao Tong University; Professor Dagmar Schäfer, Executive Director, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Germany; Mr Patrick Yeung, CEO, Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce; and Mr Edward Yau, Chairman of the Hong Chi Association and Former Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, HKSAR Government.

Professor Alex Wai and Mr Edward Ma, Secretary-General of the Yidan Prize Foundation, will also deliver closing remarks for the symposium on 22 March.

Please visit the symposium’s official website for the programme rundown, full list of keynote speakers and their discussion topics.