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Our Ambassador in Austria, Carina Zehetmaier, launched WAI in Austria through an inaugural WaiTALK at the beautiful premises of BDO Austria Gmb. The stellar line up of speakers filled the spacious and elegant conference room with around 120 participants coming from various backgrounds and industries; all interested in how AI will shape the future relationship among countries.

We had an exceptional line up of speakerto explore how Artificial Intelligence does not only transform our lives as individuals but will also define the future of international relations:


Malin Østevik, Cyber Policy Adviser in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, explained in her lightning talk the global cyber threat picture and how AI can be used to detect suspicious activities and solve transnational crime. She clarified that cybersecurity was a global issue, which needed a global response, emphasising the need to invest in cyber crime capacity building around the world in order to protect our own systems.


Martin Rauchbauer, Austrian Consul & Co-Director at Open Austria in San Francisco, enlightened the audience about the potential of AI to shift power dynamics and change the current world order:

Being in the midst of an AI arms race, headed by the two so-called "AI superpowers", the US and China, we might even be entering a new “Tech Cold War”, raising many questions about where and how Europe can and should position itself.


The two lightning talks were followed by a panel composed of outstanding experts representing not only the private and public sector, but also civil society and academia.

Moderated by the host Carina Zehetmaier, the lively discussions tried to shed light on the complex regulatory, ethical and political questions that arise in connection with big data and artificial intelligence as well as the fine line between privacy and security. The panellists also emphasised on the positive aspects of regulation, ethics and diversity and inclusion, highlighting chances for Europe in research and regulatory leadership influencing the rest of the world. Austria, world famous for arts and humanitarian heritage, could play a considerable AI and cultural diplomacy on a global scale.

Key takeaways from the panel:

- Gabriele Bolek-Fügl [Director Advisory, BDO Consulting Gmb]: it is not the software that matters, it is the people using it.

- Katerina Polychronopoulos [Research Associate at the University of Vienna Department of Innovation & Digitalisation in Law]: everyone should know a little bit about technology and find out how is software made. It is important to know that.

- Sophie Martinetz [Founder Future-Law]: we should think about what we are doing in our daily lives and not always put convenience first, because the question is "what is the price for it?” and everyone in this room has a voice, so make yourself heard.

- Clara Blume PhD [Deputy Director and Head of Art + Science at Open Austria, the Austrian Consulate and Innovation Office in Silicon Valley]: Don't give up agency, you are in power, it is your data and it is your life, have control over it. educate yourself and if you can educate others on what's to come - be creative.


Carina Zehetmaier closed the event by summarizing the key thoughts expressed throughout the evening:

“It is important which data we use, who are the people programming, which programs we are using and what is the outcome we want the machines to produce. On this note we should not only focus on what technology can do, but what it should do and this is also where the role of Europe might be on a geopolitical level. We should not focus only on what technology can do, but what technology should do”.

Many thanks again to BDO Austria Gmb for being an exceptional host and for supporting Women in AI.

Thanks also to Melanie Binder for capturing the event on these beautiful pictures.



Connect with our Ambassador for Women in AI in Austria, Carina Zehetmaier.

And don’t forget to subscribe on and join our South Africa channel.

The WAI Team



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