Addressing The Elephants In The Room

The BCC “Our Stolen Attention” breakfast workshop was held at the LSB on 18 June. Pictured from l. to r.: Virginia Anderson (Matrix Consulting), Keith Amoss ( and Rebecca Kellagher (BCC). (© Robin Jensen)

From artificial intelligence and social media to political shifts and wars: such global issues are causing plenty of uncertainty, but how can we remain level-headed? The British Chamber of Commerce’s “Our Stolen Attention” breakfast workshop on 18 June aimed to address such concerns. 

The European Parliament greenlighted the AI Act on 13 March, aiming to enhance transparency and citizens’ rights. As Civil Liberties Committee co-rapporteur Dragos Tudorache said at the time, “much work lies ahead that goes beyond the AI Act itself. AI will push us to rethink the social contract at the heart of our democracies, our education models, labour markets, and the way we conduct warfare.”

During the British Chamber of Commerce event on 18 June, held at the Luxembourg School of Business, Dr Keith Amoss of echoed similar sentiments: “AI and robotics are the biggest things since electricity. It’s the biggest change in our lives since then.”

Amoss asked the audience about their own AI-related concerns, with several participants answering that they worried more about the loss of human intelligence as a result. 

With a touch of humour, Amoss said he was going to bring the audience down a bit further—later in the workshop, participants would have a chance to discuss these issues openly and with movement. 

Most of Amoss’ career was spent in the UK’s ministry of defence and in NATO and he explained, “I have never been so worried that we are close to World War III. We are in very unstable times. Somehow we never learn [from] history… you’d think we’d have learnt, but we’re doing the exact same things again.”

After touching on issues like elections, the post-covid environment, worries about the economy and more—including our obsessive use of smartphones, what Amoss considers probably the biggest distraction—the group was invited to do a “deep democracy” exercise. Individuals in the group could volunteer to make up a role related to an emotion—in this case, stress—with others gravitating closer or farther away from them, depending on the degree to which each statement resonated with them. 

Matrix Consulting’s Virginia Anderson led this interaction, and she encouraged participants to question how the crowd changed, what it felt like for those acting out their roles, what emotions people were experiencing as they moved closer or farther away from others. At the end of the exercise, participants got into small groups to discuss their decision-making processes. One of the key takeaways for some participants was that while many feel similar anxiety about the global concerns of the day, it’s through connecting—whether in a similar networking event, or just by putting down our smartphones and talking—that we learn that others have similar concerns, and we’re not alone in our thinking. 

Several participants also praised the workshop’s interactivity and movement as being beneficial as well.

As Amoss put it, “Your imagination is incredible. And what’s really impressive is the mind and body connection. Why are things affecting us? Why do we literally feel out of sorts? The fact is, [things going on in the world] can viscerally have an effect on you when you take in a lot of different information, much of it negative.”

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