BUYERS and organisers of association conference services have expressed high levels of concern about the ethics surrounding the use of artificial intelligence in event organising.
Most believe governments should regulate the use of AI, but most respondents also expressed doubts about the ability of bureaucrats and lawmakers to legislate effectively.
The survey, which was carried out on behalf of The Hague and Partners Convention Bureau and Ottawa Tourism, reveals that 63 per cent of global association buyers are either very concerned or slightly concerned
The findings are set to be published in a white paper next month.
Of particular concern for the respondents is the usage and retention of the data obtained by technology companies through AI. Some 20 per cent believed AI technology providers were not very trustworthy, with a further 13 per cent said not at all trustworthy. These 33 per cent of respondents outweigh the 27 per cent who “mostly” trust the data providers.
As one possible solution, 52 per cent of respondents favoured an International Standard (ISO) to cover the usage of AI in events. A further 29 per cent said “maybe” such a standard should be created; just 7 per cent said “No”.
“AI is inevitable, and it is already impacting our lives in many ways,” said Bas Schot, head of The Hague & Partners Convention Bureau. “Those individuals and organisations thinking it is something that will not impact them clearly don’t realise just how ingrained it is in our world already. It is all too easy to just think in terms of generative artificial intelligence, however AI is so much more and we need to harness the power of it in a way that is ethical and positive for everyone.”
Ottawa Tourism’s vice president for meetings and major events, Lesley Pincombe, added: “We wanted to go beyond discussions about what AI can do, to consider how we should be integrating it into our organisations at a human level.
“There is no denying AI can do incredible things. However – should we allow it – when should we apply the brakes, communicate better and focus on humanity rather than technology?”
In addition to the survey, the white paper is being created following interviews and roundtable discussions with experts from the association and AI sectors.
A spokesman for both bureaus said the full white paper would cover these topics in more detail, explore particular areas of concern for the industry and question whether the sector was upskilling quickly enough to meet the growing usage of AI as a technology.
Although a much smaller data-set, 50 per cent of the corporate event organiser respondents are slightly concerned about the ethical implications of using AI in event organising. 71 per cent think governments should legislate but the same 71 per cent don’t think they have the knowledge to do so. 28 per cent of them have concerns about the technology providers trustworthiness, which is considerably outweighed by the 50 per cent who trust them.
The Hague Convention Bureau and Ottawa Tourism surveyed 109 event professionals in October 2023. During the survey they were asked what type of organisation they worked for; these were combined into two groups:
- Association, charity/not for profit, government/public sector and agencies focused on these sectors. Total – 91 respondents – described as associations/not for profits above
- Corporate company 500 or more employees, corporate company less that 500 employees, agencies focused on the corporate sector. Total – 14 respondents – described as corporates above
- The remaining four responses were excluded as industry suppliers
Some 61 per cent of the respondents were from Europe (including UK), 31 per cent from North America and the remaining 8 per cent from the rest of the world.