A Reflective Look at ‘Podium Royal’s’ Citizen Dialogue: AI – Fantastic Tool or Future Nightmare? On 5th September 2023, Heerlen’s Royal Cinema had become more than just a movie house. It transformed into a dynamic platform for critical exchange, housing the latest ‘Podium Royal.’ This monthly meeting place had entertained a lively debate, scrutinizing AI’s escalating prominence in our lives.

The quaint interiors of the Royal Cinema echoed with the contemplations of concerned citizens. Artificial Intelligence or AI’s omnipresence was the crux of the discussion. Visible in everyday activities, from supermarket self-scanners to self-driving cars, from online shopping algorithms to medical software detecting breast cancer – the omnipresence of AI was universally acknowledged. But this prevalence has also raised several unsettling thoughts – are we aligning with more totalitarian governments surveillance mode ? How do we confirm authenticity in a world where AI can flawlessly manipulate audio and video? As AI technology burgeons, how do we keep a check on the high-tech corporations solely focused on cashing in on this tech boom? Have we, unwittingly, nurtured an uncontrollable AI powerhouse?

These pressing questions, among others, were candidly examined. The ‘Podium Royal’ stage had the pleasure of welcoming Jos Verhoeven as the moderator. The expert panel included Dr. Dr. Marieke Peeters from the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and the founder of Mooncake AI, co-founder of ASIMOVO; Prof. Dr. Roger Bemelmans, a lecturer in Applied AI/Data Intelligence at Zuyd University; and Prof. Dr. Hendrik Drachsler, a tenured professor at the Open University of the Netherlands and German Leibniz Institute for International Educational Research in Frankfurt, Germany.

The result was an intense, thought-provoking exhibition of divergent views. The panellists challenged prevailing narratives around AI, offering refreshing perspectives. The enthusiastic audience was equally participative, keeping the panel on their toes with valuable inputs and sharp questions. The event concluded in the foyer- a place more akin to a marketplace of ideas. Discussions were carried over drinks as attendees made sense of the intricacies of AI in a more relaxed environment. The session had certainly shone a light on pressing issues surrounding AI.

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