On 13 November, the Liberal Profession Category of the EESC held the 5th edition of the Day of the Liberal Professions. This year the event focused on Trust in liberal professions in the age of digitalisation and artificial intelligence and aimed to gain fresh insight into the impact of artificial intelligence on the exercise of professional services and on clients' and patients' rights.
Discussions were divided into three panels covering:
- Consumer protection, healthcare and digital health
- Skills and training
Arno Metzler, president of the EESC Diversity Europe Group, opened the meeting reminding the importance of trust and quality control in the definition of the liberal professions (LP) elaborated in Rome in December 2017 and pointing out the challenges raised by digitalization and artificial intelligence (AI) for the provision of professional services.
The co-spokesperson of the category, Rudolf Kolbe emphasized that basic values will not become less but more and more important and that AI started changing liberal professions profoundly.
Karl Stöger, professor at the Institute for Public Law and Political Science at the University of Graz, delivered a very dense keynote speech and pointed out the importance of the quality of the data used by the machines, who and how feeds them and the risks of conflicts of interest for professionals when developers ask for data.
Picking up on the above ideas, Bernd Zimmer from the North Rhine Medical Association said that doctors should accompany the programmation, supported by Gianmario Gazzi representing Italian Social Workers who stated that professionals should accept the change but also be into it.
Other speakers – including numerous representatives of the liberal professions at national and European level, as well as academic experts and a representative of the European Commission (EC) – agreed on the fact that competence, knowledge, specialization, intuition, creativity of LP are determinant for the quality of result of the AI.
AI cannot weigh money against human life insisted Klaus Thürriedl from the European Council of Engineers and inexplicable automated decision making in health is certainly not the way ahead, underlined the representative of the BEUC Jelena Malinina.
AI is the opportunity for the EU to be world leaders again stated Martin Harris Hess dealing with Digitalisation of the Single Market and AI in the EC. But, as any major sociological change, AI needs to be thoroughly regulated by the State in close cooperation with liberal professions and their regulatory bodies - we are at the heart of the civil society-state dimension relationship said Prof. Colavitti.
Marina Elvira Calderone, co-spokesperson of the liberal professions category, concluded that event succeeded in putting together two worlds – AI and LP - that may not speak to each other. It also opened the way to further steps that the EESC - strong of the diversity of its composition and its intermediary role between EU institutions and civil society organisations - could undertake with a possible own-initiative opinion on the effects and perspectives of AI on professional services in the EU.
For more information about the event, please follow this link.