Artificial Intelligence: The Challenge to Humanity in the 21st Century

What are the real threats and opportunities?

Event Overview

The rapid advancement of generative AI tools, such as large language models like GPT, raised a serious discussion about the challenges and opportunities brought by generative AI and about the ways to handle them. Leading AI experts have warned of an existential threat to humanity from AI, as others emphasize the opportunities from AI, while also accepting there could be a range of harmful impacts from its use. The Consultative Event “Artificial Intelligence – The Great Challenge to Humanity in the 21st Century: What Are the Real Threats and Opportunities?” proposes to discuss and sketch out the challenges and opportunities of and the evolving proposals to address both the good and negative impacts of this humanity transforming technology.

This event is in partnership with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Canada.

About ICJ

As the Canadian branch of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, ICJ Canada has been promoting the rule of law, human rights, and the independence of the judiciary in Canada and around the world since 1958. ICJ Canada provides legal expertise to ensure that developments in international law adhere to human rights principles, and that international standards are implemented domestically.


Event Recording



8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

Opening and Welcome by Jacques Fremont, University of Ottawa President

Serge Blais, uOttawa Professional Development Institute Executive Director

Errol Mendes, International Commission of Jurists – Canada President

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM Keynote video address by Yoshua Bengio, Professor at Université de Montréal, Founder and Scientific Director of Quebec AI Institute (MILA), 2018 Turing Award

09:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Panel 1: The AI Technologies: The Threats, Challenges and Opportunities to the Economy and Society, National Security and Public Safety, Privacy and the Rule of Law, Democracy and Human Rights

Moderator: Errol Mendes, International Commission of Jurists - Canada President

This panel will discuss and explore the extent of real or perceived potential existential threats of AI technologies to the humankind and also examine what are the potential responses to such threats. It will also discuss and explore more immediate challenges and opportunities of AI technologies to the jobs market, health care, discrimination-free administrative decision-making, opportunities and threats to critical infrastructure, disinformation and information integrity, global inequality, etc.

  • MEP Dragoș Tudorache, European Parliament Rapporteur on the EU AI Act, former Chair of the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Age (AIDA);
  • Katrina Ingram, Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta and Chief Executive of the Edmonton-based consultancy Ethically Aligned AI;
  • Casey Mock, Chief Policy & Public Affairs Officer at the Center for Humane Technology, Lecturing Fellow at Duke University School of Law;
  • Katie Szilagyi, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Panel 2: Evolving Proposals to Respond to the Challenges and Opportunities from the AI Technologies

Moderator: Serge Blais, Executive Director of the University of Ottawa Professional Development Institute

This panel will discuss and explore the evolving proposals, principles and models for responding to the impacts of AI, including industry voluntary self-regulation, rigid and flexible models of state regulation, the “Chinese” model of regulation and the approach to AI regulation in the case of “rogue” states (Russia, Iran, North Korea, etc). This panel will also advise the involved partners on what responses to the impact of AI should be the focus of subsequent dialogues and action in the following months and years.

  • Kristen Thomasen, Assistant Professor at the Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia;
  • Yasmine Ezzeddine, Lecturer in Policing, Expert in Forensic Sciences and PhD Researcher in Artificial Intelligence, Surveillance and use of AI in Policing;
  • Errol Mendes, Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, International Commission of Jurists – Canada President;
  • Andréane Sabourin Laflamme, PhD Candidate, University of Sherbrooke
12:30 PM -12:45 PM

Epilogue Address by Rick Switzer, Director of Policy and Strategy, Special Envoy Office for Critical & Emerging Technology (S/TECH), U.S. Department of State          

12:45 PM - 13:00 PM

Concluding Remarks and Closing of the Event

  • Serge Blais, uOttawa Professional Development Institute Executive Director
  • Errol Mendes, International Commission of Jurists - Canada President