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Image generated by R2M Solution with DALL-E 2 OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model

AI and Ethics in Manufacturing

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is part of our life, even if we are not always and fully aware of it. This is especially true in the factory, where AI, often embedded in networked machineries, got an increasing decisional power and autonomy. The AI can not only take functional choices - like alter the sequence of production to reduce energy consumption or call for predictive maintenance - but also influence how the human workers act. This is not necessarily negative: for example, there are already factories where AI checks the workers’ fatigue with wearable sensors and use this information to reduce stress and incidents. Yet, these choices often rely on sensible data, with decisional processes not always transparent.

These are only a few of the many controversial aspects that stimulate public debate with an increasing demand for more transparency, accountability, trust, regulations.

Now that AI is becoming pervasive in manufacturing, there is an increasing number of big advantages… and big questions! During our 2-hours workshop “AI and Ethics in Manufacturing”, part of the big event “Sustainable Places 2022” that R2M Solution organizes yearly, we tried to answer some of these questions. We welcomed in Nice (France) experts from three AI-focused Horizon projects (KITT4SME, COALA, AI-REGIO and STAR), and a representative of the longsighted EU standardization initiative

After the project presentations, which gave the audience a grip on state-of-art AI in Europe, we hosted a round table discussing hot topics like “How will intelligent machines affect human interactions?” or “How can we guard against mistakes that an AI can make?”. With the help of manufacturers, academics, legal experts - and a significant contribution of our public - we put on the table subjects like “human in the loop/out of the loop”, requalification of employees, human/AI cooperation, explainable and accountable AI, tools to protect human rights in AI-driven innovation.

The workshop shed lights and shadows over AI, sparked curiosity, raised more questions, and demonstrated how urgent is to seek the answers to these questions, right now.

Workshop presenters and discussion panel:

  • Salvatore Alivesi (Ideal-tek) End-User experience in the KITT4SME project
  • Nicholas Asher (IRIT) | COALA EU project - Conversational AI
  • Andrea Bettoni (SUPSI) | The KITT4SME project short presentation
  • Eva Coscia (R2M Solution) | Chair | KITT4SME and STAR EU projects
  • Marina Cugurra (AI Regio) | Legal and Ethical AI
  • Maria Giuffrida (CoMMpla and TRUST-IT) | EU Commission HSbooster service
  • Elena Minisci (CRIT) | Co-Chair
  • Davorka Moslavak (ICENT) | DIH experience in KITT4SME project


By: Eva Coscia (R2M Solution) and Giuseppe Scarpi (R2M Solution)