Debating AI in Oslo

Will AI destroy humanity or save us?

This sounds like a large question, and it is, and it is a strange question. An inherent assumption in the question, which we should not take too far, is that artificial intelligence is not us. Already here I think we need a rephrasing perhaps as simple as: will we destroy or save us? Tomorrow I will participate in a debate about artificial intelligence in a panel with four speakers. Therefore this text will be more about exploring the personalities of the different people within the field of artificial intelligence which I will be debating with tomorrow. The four are as follows:

Tonje Hessen Schei the Filmmaker

If we look directly towards her IMDb Tonje Hessen Schei is a director and producer, known for Drone (2014), Play Again (2010) and Independent Intervention (2006). She has however worked with independent documentary production since 1996.

Her documentary Drone from 2014 is about the covert CIA drone war. Through voices on both sides of this new technology, it reveals information about the drone war in Pakistan and offers insights into the nature of drone warfare.

She is currently working on a documentary called iHuman, she has been working on it at least since 2016 seeing from the development funds provided to the movie. The debate we are having seems to be angled towards this documentary with the greatest challenge or greatest fear of doom. He documentary is tracking the question of this change for society and the future as well as how AI affects who we are.

Morten Irgens the Deacon and Computer Scientist

He was the Deputy Principal at the Oslo Metropolitan University and is now the development Director and deacon for the faculty of economics, innovation and technology. He has been working as an industrial researcher and board member in many of the most prominent communities focused on artificial intelligence in Oslo and some in Europe. In 2018 he was part of establishing an European collaboration called Confederation of Laboratories for Artificial Intelligence Research in Europe (CLAIRE). He is additionally a board member of NORA — The Norwegian Artificial Intelligence Research Consortium.

He has for a long time been involved in security and did notably gather a wide range of researcher to speak out with the international Campaign Against Killer Robots in Oslo during an event in Oslo. He started up Lytt til oss (translated from Norwegian: listen to us), which received almost 800 signatures from researchers.

Klas Pettersen — CEO of NORA

Klas is a physicist with a PhD in computational neuroscience. He has been an active researcher in the field of artificial intelligence and has worked with management on different levels. He has an engagement in politics and experience communication as well. He leads the Norwegian Artificial Intelligence Research Consortium (NORA) which is a common arena for research and education within artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics.

The partners of NORA are most universities in Norway and largest research communities for artificial intelligence: the University of Oslo, University of Bergen, Oslo Metropolitan University, the University in Agder, Simula, the Unversity of Tromsø, the Norwegian Life Science University, the University of Stavanger and NORCE.

Marianne Fyhn, Professor, Centre for Integrative Neuroplasticity

Marianne is a Professor at the Section for Physiology and Cell Biology. It is an interdisciplinary research centre working with the brain combining physics with computational modelling.

“Centre for Integrative Neuroplasticity (CINPLA) aims to reveal mechanisms underlying of the brain’s ability to change and learn from experiences by integrating experimental methods with physics-based computational modeling and analysis.”

She was one who contributed to the first Norwegian Nobel prize in physiology or medicine. She worked at that time at the Centre for the Biology of Memory.

When she wrote her doctorate it was announced as the best within neuroscience in the year of 2005, and she was rewarded the Donald B. Lindsley’s prize in Behavioral Neuroscience.


I will be participating in this debate tomorrow and I am excited to say the least. Will AI destroy humanity or save us? Perhaps I should not start in the clichéd social science way of criticising the bias of the question. I have been thinking about the consequences technology has for the environment so it is not unlikely that I will attempt to bring this aspect into the debate. It is a negative one, however we have seen solutions where the field of artificial intelligence can help to contribute. This week the focus has been on one question and it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow. I will do my best to record the conversation and type it out.

I have written a few articles the last days one with a negative or very critical perspective:

The other one attempting to take the positive perspective of what AI can do for the benefit of our civilisation:

Two very opposite views, although I am used to and interested in exploring everything in between the extremes. This has been an exciting week and I am very much excited for what the coming day will bring.

Will AI destroy humanity or save us?

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 142. I write one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days.

What is your favourite solution or way to adress different problems assisted by the field of AI? Please let me know by responding to this text.

AI Policy and Ethics at Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own.