Saudi Arabia's Philosophy Conference prepares for a second season

Theme this year explores ethical debates around AI and technological advances

The Philosophy Conference in Riyadh is a three-day event that brings together international, regional and Saudi thinkers to discuss the most pressing contemporary philosophical issues. SPA
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Space travel and new perspectives on humanity in space will be leading topics for discussion at Riyadh's Philosophy conference this year.

After a successful debut in 2021, the Saudi capital on Thursday will open its second instalment of the conference, and will welcome philosophers, scientists, artists and historians under the theme: ”Knowledge and Exploration: Space, Time, and Humanity.”

The conference, which runs from Thursday until Saturday, is expected to produce debate on the complexities of space diplomacy, justice and ethics in exploration as well as the dilemmas of artificial intelligence and the latest developments in technology.

The conference is run in partnership with the Space Commission and the Saudi Research & Media Group, to better explore the promises and ethical drawbacks of technology and science.

The event aims to open philosophical discussion to people of all ages by offering workshops and lectures suitable for every academic background.

Staged by the kingdom’s Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission, the gathering will be held for a second time in Riyadh at King Fahd National Library and will feature lectures, panel discussions, seminars and workshops.

"The main theme this year is very important because it brings together current issues, such as space exploration, with the main questions of philosophy, such as existential, ethical, and epistemological questions," Abdullah Almutairi, an associate professor at King Saud University and president of the administrative board at the Saudi Philosophy Society, told The National.

"Saudi Arabia has been hosting many international events and now the world of philosophy is joining the club. I am expecting very dynamic conversations between the Saudi philosophy community and the philosophers and scientists from all over."

The conference will again have a children’s philosophical space in additions to three parallel activity sites at the event.

The Philosophers of Tomorrow Pavilion, aimed at seven to15-year-old attendees, promises to engage youth in philosophical thinking through a range of workshops to help them answer questions such as “Does the world have a beginning?” and “How do I see myself?”

The first Philosophy Conference, which was held in December 2021 under the theme "Festival of Ideas", had more than 15 countries participating in an inter-cultural dialogue across an array of subjects under a theme of unpredictability.

“Last year’s ground-breaking conference succeeded in putting Saudi Arabia on the global philosophical map and established the kingdom as a regional centre for philosophical dialogue." Mohamed Hassan Alwan, chief executive of the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission, told the Saudi News Agency.

The conference, which is open to all upon registration, is representative of the series of changes Saudi Arabia is undergoing as it works towards the goals of Vision 2030.

Updated: November 30, 2022, 9:22 AM