Home » Korea-Swiss forum addresses digital trust in the era of AI and tech innovation

Korea-Swiss forum addresses digital trust in the era of AI and tech innovation

Korea-Swiss forum addresses digital trust in the era of AI and tech innovation

Ambassador of Switzerland to Korea Dagmar Schmidt Tartagli, center, speaks during an open talk event as part of the Korea-Swiss Innovation Week at the Swiss Embassy in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, on Monday. [EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND]

 
The importance and challenges of building digital trust in the current ever-developing era of AI and technological innovation were highlighted during an open talk event hosted by the Swiss Embassy in Seoul on Monday. 
 
Panelists from the public and private sectors, academia and the media participated in the open talk “Building Bridges in Digital Trust” as part of Korea-Swiss Innovation Week.
 
The event addressed multifaceted aspects of digital trust, the histories of technologies ensuring social trust between humans, weaknesses and vulnerabilities of modern digital technologies and the way innovation is used in humanitarian efforts.
 
Ambassador Benedikt Wechsler, head of the digital division at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, kicked off the open talk after congratulatory remarks by Ambassador of Switzerland to Korea Dagmar Schmidt Tartagli and Shin Sung-chul, the ambassador for science and technology of Korea.
 
 
“There are other actors like academia and civil society, but governments have to play a part to create digital trust,” Wechsler said, emphasizing Switzerland’s role as a country in promoting digital trust. “Most of the organizations and governments that help organize the digital world are in Geneva. We have to combine, on the one hand, political processes and dialogue with all stakeholders when we try to find new ways and the right tools and answers for our age.”
 
Professor Kim Yong-dae, head of the Policy Science and Technology Research Center at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), discussed adversaries to digital trust and how they can invade technologies by inserting false or fake inputs.
 
Technologies such as machine learning, self-driving cars, drones, blockchain and 5G or 6G cellular communication — all critical components of the digital transformation and industry 4.0 — operate based on input data, and adversaries can jam, block, spoof or fake such inputs, Kim explained.
 
“The adversary environment should be considered from the design to the implementation of our infrastructure where adversaries can control inputs to emerging systems,” said Kim. “We are finding many, many problems with AI, and we are trying to fix them while developing it. We actually should try to directly fix these vulnerabilities beforehand for our society to become more safe.”
 
Balthasar Staehelin, the personal envoy of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) president to China and head of the regional delegation for East Asia at the ICRC, then offered perspectives from the humanitarian sector.
 
“The use of digital technology has an enormous potential but, when employed in fragile contexts, requires a particularly thoughtful approach,” said Staehelin. “What we believe at the ICRC is that technology needs to be people-centric — we need to have a responsible and ethical use of technology, and that is particularly important in conflict because people simply often do not have the possibility to opt out.”
 
Staehelin further argued that a people-centric and ethical usage of technology does not mean that humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC reject technology, explaining how the combined use of satellite images and AI and deep learning are used in the humanitarian sector, how drones, infrared cameras and AI are used to search for mines and how data mining is used in the search for missing persons in conflict areas.
 
Trustworthiness in the era of generative AI was also addressed during the open talk through a presentation given by Ha Jung-woo, head of AI innovation at one of Korea’s technology behemoths, Naver Cloud.
 
“We expect that AI can provide some solutions to help humans with the many diverse tasks we have, but fairness, accountability and transparency are issues,” said Ha. “Misinformation, bias, harmfulness and overconfidence are often problems with AI.”  
 
Ha argued that reasonable approaches in policy, regulation, standards, guidelines and technology reports are needed to balance innovation and trustworthiness. Respect for cultural diversity, inclusion and global solidarity are also crucial for AI trustworthiness, he said.
 
Finally, Melanie Kolbe-Guyot, head of digital policy at the Center for Digital Trust at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL), addressed perhaps the most fundamental question regarding digital trust — what it is exactly and how social science and the technology sector approach the concept differently.
 
“The most useful definition that I have found is that digital trust is the confidence users have in the ability of people, technology and processes to create a secure digital world,” said Kolbe-Guyot. “The social sciences see it as social capital, but if you ask someone from a technological standpoint, the concept of trust is often viewed as a vulnerability, as susceptible to exploitation.”
 

Executive editor of the Korea JoongAng Daily Choi Ji-young, second from right, speaks during the Q&A session of an open talk event at the Swiss Embassy in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, on Monday. [EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND]

Executive editor of the Korea JoongAng Daily Choi Ji-young, second from right, speaks during the Q&A session of an open talk event at the Swiss Embassy in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, on Monday. [EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND]

 
The executive editor of the Korea JoongAng Daily, Choi Ji-young, participated in the open talk as a discussant, outlining the challenges that news media face in forming digital trust with their readership.
 
“One very important aspect of digital trust is the media because it really bridges the gap between politics, civil society and business,” said Choi. “But as we all know, media faces many crises, and that is also the case in Korea. The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism surveyed 46 countries across the world, and it found that in Korea, only 20 percent of the people trust the media — 41st out of 46. Incorporating AI and technology into our business and how to do that is also a challenge we face.”
 
The Korea-Swiss Innovation Week continues with events held at the Swiss Embassy in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, until Friday.  
 

BY LIM JEONG-WON [lim.jeongwon@joongang.co.kr]