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European Cyber Agora Conference 2024

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Written by: Syuzanna Kirakosyan and Kristina Velimirovic

Edited by: : Clelia Vettori

Supervised by: Marta Cerafogli

On 23 April 2024, the European Cyber Agora (ECA) Conference began in Brussels, Belgium. This conference is a multistakeholder initiative aimed at promoting the responsible development and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Nanna-Louise Linde, Microsoft’s Vice-President of European Government Affairs, opened the event by highlighting the significant role of global collaborative efforts and raising awareness of AI governance concerns in an increasingly digital security domain.

The Co-Chair of the United Nations High-Level Advisory Body on AI, Carme Artigas, delivered the keynote speech where she touched on the impact of AI in governance and its importance for the European cyber security framework. She highlighted the increase and spread of misinformation and disinformation parallel to the rise of generative AI and the severe implications of its (un)intended misuse that threatens democracy at its core. In addition, she noted that the broader lens of cyber security and organised crime must be considered when discussing the regulation of AI on a global level. Artigas (Microsoft, 2024) argued that there is a profound deficit in how AI is managed globally. More importantly, she highlighted the need to reach agreements on the interoperability of AI standards among European states and the Global South, as the cyber domain is not limited by geographical distance. In this regard, Artigas stated, “we cannot have only an isolated island of regulation” (Artigas, C., 2024, ECA). While the competition in developing and launching various AI models remains a driving force in the global innovation race, interoperability remains critical in addressing securityrelated concerns.

Subsequently, a panel discussion on AI, transatlantic alignment, and geopolitics followed, examining the rise of AI and the geopolitical implications for the European Union (EU)—globally and within the transatlantic partnership. Experts in the field, including Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, Randolf Carr, AnneMarie Engtoft Meldgaard, Nicolas Moës, and Audrey Plonk, came together to address the implications of a competition-driven market, where the harmonisation of definitions of AI systems is essential to respond to emerging threats, safety and security concerns, and AI-generated disinformation. Plonk (Microsoft, 2024) argued that a European AI strategy requires an assessment of room for cooperation in the AI global governance. She stressed the importance of having a standard definition of AI systems, as well as of the risks, harms, and hazards associated with them.

The last panel was dedicated to harmonising cybersecurity policies for nations aspiring to join the European Union, particularly in the Western Balkans. The panellists, including Michael Docherty, Lulëzon Jagxhiu, Juuso Järviniemi and Nebojša Jokić, explored the evolving landscape of cybersecurity expectations, providing insights into the policies, technologies, and collaborative efforts essential to ensure the aspiring members a secure digital future within the EU framework. Participants from the region emphasised how the lack of workforce, low salaries, and problems with public administration reforms could further hinder such cooperation. Overall, the panel concluded that the EU needs to find a delicate balance between a tailored approach towards the region while maintaining a common cybersecurity strategy and potentially allowing the aspiring countries to join the existing initiatives and networks at the union level.

Overall, the conference was informative, involving in-depth discussions and expert dialogues. It raised awareness of AI governance concerns, emerging cyber threats, and harmonisation of standards, inviting government representatives and private parties to join forces and address all potential safety and security risks.

Microsoft. (2024). European Cyber Agora: An Inclusive Multistakeholder Initiative for a Digital Europe.