5th ASEF Young Leaders Summit (ASEFYLS5)

Young leaders from Asia and Europe collaborate for global solutions in the age of A.I. and technological threats

By Angelo Lorenzo

In a generation where technological misuse threatens democracy, the global climate, and human security, young leaders from Asia and Europe are coming up with groundbreaking solutions that address these challenges. The 5th ASEF Young Leaders Summit at the University of Salamanca, Spain, invited over 100 participants from 51 countries to learn about how modern technology can be utilized to advance social progress. The three-day summit lasted from September 13th to 15th and was organized by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF).

New Generation of Leaders - Over 100 participants from 51 countries took part in the 5th Asia and Europe Foundation Young Leaders Summit at the University of Salamanca from September 13th to 15th. Leaders from Asian and European organizations, as well as the University's administrators, welcomed them.
Risks of Artificial Intelligence

Among the topics discussed is the latest trend of artificial intelligence. This innovation grants efficiency and productivity to businesses and companies that heavily rely on digital technology, but it can also pose a risk to human employment. There is the possibility for digital systems to replace human labor. When used for other malicious practices, A.I. also threatens human privacy and national security. “We should not overlook the ethical implications of digital technologies,” European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino said in a video addressed to the participants. “Artificial intelligence, automation, and big data have enormous potential, but they also raise profound ethical questions,” he added. “Leaders must ensure that these technologies are developed and deployed in a way that respects human rights, privacy, and dignity.” In her 2023 State of the Union Address, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen shared Europe’s framework to discover and utilize the potentials of A.I. through three pillars: guardrails, governance, and guiding innovation. While Europe has taken the initial measures to integrate this framework, Japan has come up with a concept of an ideal society where humans and technology can systematically work together.

Society 5.0

“The Society 5.0 describes a human-centric society that integrates cyberspace and physical space to balance economic advancement,” ASEF Executive Director Toru Morikawa stated during the opening ceremony. “We are living in an era where the virtual and physical world are increasingly integrating,” he added. Mirroring the potential for technology to aid people’s lifestyle, Society 5.0 also opens doors for innovators to use technology to solve societal challenges. “Societal challenges have always been around,” Morikawa explained. “But there is a fundamental difference between the past and the present – the speed of change.” Along with the world’s rapid technological innovations, young leaders need to keep up with the rising trends. In light of this prospect, a recent report showed that young people do not lack the desire and the drive to utilize technology for societal development.

Pathways for Collaboration - The event provided an opportunity for young leaders to learn from each other, share their ideas, and collaborate to advance societal progress in the digital age.
The vigor of youth

The second day of the conference highlighted the Youth Perception Report on Social Challenges and Role of Technology, a study conducted by Fulbright Institute of International Education Associate Professor Christopher McCarthy. The report explored the data taken from the insights of young respondents from 51 countries about the societal realities disrupted by rampant challenges. These include education and healthcare, poverty, climate change, mental health, gender equality, meaningful work, racism and discrimination, and clean water sanitation. While researching for information, McCarthy found out that young people become active agents in resolving these challenges through their own initiatives with the use of technology. Education, volunteerism, and supporting diversity and representation are three of the most influential courses of action. “Today’s youth view themselves not as mere spectators but as active agents in shaping the future from education to civic engagement,” McCarthy stated in his report summary. “They are poised to tackle challenges through a multi-faceted approach.”

Problem, potential, promise

The participants’ proposed projects reflected this multi-faceted approach in the summit’s concluding activity. Divided into groups, the participants outlined courses of action that will address specific societal challenges that currently affect European and Asian communities. Key topics included the role of generative A.I. in the scope of socio-economic health, the dangers of misinformation and disinformation in polarized situations, and digital anxiety and wellbeing. They are also initiating promising initiatives such as providing safe spaces for learning, paving the way for leadership opportunities for the dedicated youth in Laos and Indonesia, crafting sustainable hybrid leadership development courses, capitalizing on the inclusivity of the new equation, and revolutionizing nutrition in developing countries. The summit’s conclusion also marked the launch of ASEF’s Leadership in Action Phase. This serves as the next step for the participants where they apply what they have learned from the summit into their proposed projects. This initiative will open doors for young leaders in Europe and Asia to collaborate to achieve promising results. With regular check-ins during this phase, the participants will receive the opportunity to showcase their project’s results in the online culminating ceremony in December this year. Based in Singapore, ASEF is a non-profit intergovernmental organization that advances the mission to connect and strengthen ties between Asia and Europe through the aspects of culture, economy, education, governance, media, sustainable development, and public health.

Exploring Ideas - Participants work together to come up with sustainable solutions to address prevalent societal problems.
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1 Comment

  1. Great writing

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