Top AI Conference for Leaders: The Ultimate Guide 2021

By Alla Kos

January 18, 2021

What is the best AI governance conference worthy of your attention in 2021, especially considering that due to COVID 19 pandemic most of them continue to be held online? If you are a director, professor, researcher, data scientist or business leader, it would be useful if the top AI event on your radar would focus not only on the latest technology advancements but cover also emerging data governance, big data, AI safety and AI regulation trends.

Did you know that Gartner indicated ''smarter, faster, more responsible AI'' as a number one among top 10 technology trends that data and analytics leaders should focus on while making essential investments to prepare for a post-pandemic reset?

In fact, the year 2021 is promising to be rich for events, news and conversations around AI policy and regulation issues. Therefore, the purpose of this blog post is to present the actual calendar of the entire year featuring the most important AI/Machine Learning events, AI and ethics, and innovative technology governance conferences, summits, festivals and forums, including highlights on their key themes and topics. 

Below you will find a profile for each AI technology related event to make it easy for you to plan your participation, tracking, professional networking, follow up and learning activities. And, no matter when you read this post, you could always check event website and social media accounts for the past and future events on this 2021 list.

If you have been focusing mainly on enterprise AI technology use cases and less (or not at all) on its social and environmental impacts, you might find some events in this guide that sound less familiar to you. They are not less important, though, and you will quickly discover it by yourself already in the first quarter of 2021 as the European Commission presents legislative proposals for a coordinated European approach to the human and ethical implications of AI and sets the ground for global rules.

What does the top AI conference Guide 2021 cover?

The Guide 2021 includes events focused on tech advancements and ethical and responsible development and use of AI and other emerging technologies, and aimed especially at AI experts and industry leaders involded with or interested in AI adoption and digital transformation initiatives as well as at tech sector executives and managers

It is divided into four sections that cover:

  • European events dedicated to AI risk and model governance issues
  • Featured tech events including ethics and regulation tracks
  • Key AI forums with focus on ethics, policy and regulation issues outside of Europe e.g. in the US, Canada and other countries
  • AI, Business and Human Rights, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals: international events relevant for business executives, director level roles and other decision-makers engaged with AI strategy, AI for Good initiatives, sustainable business development, procurement and AI research issues.

AI event profiles include dates and location, key theme, Twitter handle, dedicated AI event hashtag, program and topics highlights, website address, current edition and previous edition insights (where available/relevant). 

Why engage with AI system governance agenda?

It goes without saying that you don't need to attend all events. There are plenty of other ways how you could use them to your advantage. However, the five main reasons why modern industry leaders should make sure they stay on top of the recent developments and emerging trends are as follows:

  1. to make more informed decisions and build a reliable foundation for your business strategy
  2. to manage AI risks beyond compliance and make your company more successful in the long term
  3. to learn about good business practices for implementing responsible and ethical use of AI, improving corporate processes and fulfilling social responsibility
  4. to stay engaged with AI policy makers not only to track evolving regulations but to shape them by providing your inputs and being part of AI governance and ethics conversations and pilot projects
  5. to unlock new business development opportunities by staying ahead of the curve, reinventing your business models and making them fit for the future.

Bonus benefits: Last but not least, meaningfully engaging with AI regulation and policy issues, attending or following at least some top AI conferences and events could be a great way of finding your next new business partner, employee, investor, advisor and learning from your global peers.

Of course, it's totally up to you how you decide to learn and improve AI business practices. Ignore ethics and tech regulation developments, events and conversations at your own peril.

Top AI governance conferences in Europe and around the world

Still curious to identify your own top AI event? Here's the list of the best AI gatherings with tech ethics, policy and regulation angle to attend or follow in 2021.

Let's dive into it!

1. Human Rights in the Era of AI - Europe as international Standard Setter for AI

Dates and location: 20 January 2021, LIVESTREAM

High-level AI Conference Human Rights in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Twitter account of @GermanyCoE Presidency

Key theme: The impact of AI on fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law, as well as the feasibility and details of a future legal framework for artificial intelligence technology.

Twitter & event hashtag: @GermanyCoE #COE4AI

Edition: High-level AI event organised as part of Germany’s Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from November 2020 to May 2021.

Program highlights

  • Panel Debate 1: Do we need an internationally harmonised legal framework for AI?
  • Panel Debate 2: Expectations for AI regulation within the Council of Europe and beyond
  • Presentation of the feasibility study and prospects for a future CoE legal framework on AI
  • High-level closing Panel: How can the CoE and EU build bridges as international standard-setters for the regulation of AI?

Web :

2. Computers, Privacy and Data Protection CPDP 2021 

Dates and location: 27-29 January 2021, ONLINE

CPDP 2021 Computers, Privacy & Data Protection conference

Key theme: Enforcing rights in a changing world. 

Twitter & event hashtag: @cpdpconferences #CPDP2021

Edition: 14th international annual conference

Program highlights: Here's only some of the selected titles of the CPDP 2021 sessions included:

  • EU Digital Strategy: a holistic vision for a digital Europe?
  • Global AI Governance: perspectives from four continents
  • Augmented Compliance: the case of Algorithmic Impact Assessment
  • How can regulation help build trustworthy artificial intelligence?
  • AI regulation in Europe and Fundamental Rights
  • Toward research access for platform data

What is special about CPDP gathering?:

  • Its multidisciplinary formula: CPDP brings together a diverse blend of stakeholders, disciplines and approaches and offers the cutting edge in legal, regulatory, academic and technological development in privacy and data protection. CPDP is EU’s main multistakeholder forum for academics, lawyers, practitioners, policy-makers, industry and nonprofits from all over the world to meet and discuss the latest emerging issues and trends in privacy and ICT.
  • The CPDP 2020 took AI as its focus to pave the way for a thorough discussion over a broad range of ethical, legal and policy issues related to new technologies and data analytics.

Web :

3. Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence - CAHAI, Council of Europe

Dates and location: see the calendar of meetings for the year 2021 below

CAHAI Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence

CAHAI website

CAHAI dedicated event on the multi-stakeholder consultation
21 May 2021 (to be confirmed)

CAHAI Bureau Meetings:
15 January 2021, 27 April 2021 and 8 -10 November 2021

CAHAI Plenary Meetings:
26 February 2021, 28 - 30 June 2021 and 7 - 9 December 2021

CAHAI PDG (Policy Development Group) Meetings:
21 - 22 January 2021, 18 - 19 March 2021 and 11 - 12 October 2021

CAHAI LFG (Legal Framework Group) Meetings:
10 - 11 February 2021, 8 - 9 April 2021, 20 - 21 September and 2 - 3 November 2021

CAHAI COG (Consultations and Outreach Group) Meetings:
3 - 4 June 2021.

Deliverables and documents produced by CAHAI so far include:

  • The first progress report approved by the Committee of Ministers
  • Feasibility study on a legal framework on AI design, development and application based on the Council of Europe standards
  • Towards Regulation of AI Systems publication

Other international organisations such as EU, OECD and UNESCO also contribute to CAHAI’s work.

Note: While CAHAI meetings are internal, the group is engaging with diverse stakeholders and the outcomes of their work are important and relevant for everyone.

Key theme: Towards an application of artificial intelligence based on fundamental rights, the rule of law and democracy. Main focus in 2021: elaboration of elements of an appropriate legal framework for the development, design and application of AI tech, including through broad multi-stakeholder consultations.

Twitter & event hashtag: @COE4AI #CoE4AI #CAHAI

Edition: The CAHAI's mandate is two years.

Program highlights: Elaboration of the feasibility study and Mapping of the work on AI already carried out within the Council of Europe and other international organisations and multi-stakeholder initiatives.  

What is special about CAHAI?: Its mandate and work on the legal standards that aim to set global benchmarks. The CAHAI is set to present the elements for a Convention on AI by end 2021. 

CAHAI Roadmap 2020-2021 AI Legal Framework meetings milestones

CAHAI Roadmap 2020 - 2021

4. What Future for European Robotics? Science for Policy event

Dates and location: 27 - 29 January 2021, Brussels, Belgium LIVESTREAM

What Future for European Robotics? Science for Policy

Key theme: Scientific, policy-oriented and EU-centred analysis of the state of robotics from technical, economic and social angles, including short-term and long-term policy challenges, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 crisis and its recovery.

Europe's tech sector is coming of age. Europe has all the potential to be a global leader in the next wave of digital transformation. 

President von der Leyen // at the Lisbon Web Summit, December 2020

Twitter & AI and Robotics event hashtag: @EU_ScienceHub #AIWATCH

Program highlights:  selected keynote and panel discussion topics include:

  • Economic impact of robotisation on employment, productivity and competitiveness
  • The impact of robots on society
  • Assessing the social impact of AI and robotics
  •  AI Robots and foresight
  • Policy Round Table: What regulatory framework is needed for EU robotics?

This AI event brings together key policy-makers, scientists from MIT, Sorbonne, OECD, Universities of Ghent, Utrecht and Berlin, as well as representatives of industry, companies and venture capitalist.


5. Politico AI Summit 2021 - high profile conference on the role of European AI industry in the world

Dates and location: 31 May 2021, Brussels, Belgium ONLINE

Politico AI Summit 2021 - Europe

Key theme: Europe's digital reckoning? ▶️ Discussion of the EU's proposal of legislation (expected in the first quarter 2021) to govern the use of AI e.g. How will new requirements on algorithmic transparency come across to regular people? And what kind of implementation effort will this require from startups, mid-size companies and big tech? Plus - AI and geopolitical reality check.

Twitter & Politico AI event hashtag: @EventsPOLITICO #POLITICOAI

Edition: 4th edition with participation of top regulators, tech leaders, startups innovators, and NGO representatives.   

Program highlights:  panel discussions, exclusive interviews, and interactive roundtable discussions on the future of AI in Europe and worldwide

  • Making sense of Europe’s legislative framework
  • How to monitor AI use and impact? What about our fundamental rights?
  • AI and cyber security: helping or hindering?
  • The global state of cooperation
  • Away from the usual suspects: the global south perspective

What is special about POLITICO Summit?: High level panels, strategic round tables, addressing big profound questions and issues at the intersection of innovation and government, bringing in multiple viewpoints to find a way forward for making a difference on society at large. 

Politico AI Summit 2020 in Europe aimed to tackle key questions about the future of AI global regulation. The event attracted high-level international and interdisciplinary group of government leaders with industry, research, academic, and civil society stakeholders, including corporates, scientists and engineers, AI researcher, ethicists, economists, sociologists, anthropologists, VCs, start-ups.


6. International Congress for the Governance of AI (ICGAI 2021)

Dates and location: Due to COVID-19, the event has been postponed twice in 2020 and ICGAI 2021 has evolved into a VIRTUAL event/speaker series.

International Congress for the Governance of AI - ICGAI 2021

ICGAI website

Key theme: Agile governance of AI - balancing the need for innovation, competition and cooperation, while minimizing risks and undesirable societal consequences.

Twitter & event hashtag: @ICGAI2021 #ICGAI

Edition: 1st edition

Program highlights:

  • Catalyzing Cooperation: Working Together Across AI Governance Initiatives
  • Inclusivity and Effective Governance
  •  Global Governance Network for AI proposal
  • AI Governance from the perspective of China

ICGAI Advisors include Virginia Dignum, Professor of Social and Ethical AI, University of Umea, Sweden; Yoshua Bengio, Professor of Computer Science, University of Montreal, Canada; Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science, University California, Berkeley, US; Raja Chatila, Professor at Sorbonne University, France & Chair IEEE Global Initiative Ethics of Autonomous Intelligent Systems; Eva-Marie Muller-Stuller, Chief Data Scientist and Leader of the Center of Excellence, IBM MEA.

What is special about ICGAI?: ICGAI is collaborative initiative aiming to establish an agile and comprehensive framework for AI by going beyond principles and individual policy proposals and focusing on putting in place international mechanisms. ICGAI is supporting the implementation of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, and contributing to consultations on the proposal to create a multi-stakeholder advisory body for AI.


7. European AI Forum - top conference for national AI associations, 3rd edition

Dates and location: 30 June 2021 LIVESTREAM

European AI Forum 2021 National AI Associations logos

European AI forum website

Key theme: How AI is approached in Europe and the path forward for European AI innovation?

Twitter & event hashtag: @HubFranceIA  #EuropeanAIforum

Edition: 3rd edition  

Program highlights:  keynotes and fireside chats exploring the most pressing issues that are driving the AI ecosystem around, and three panels

  • The AI Act - the future foundation of the EU’s AI ecosystem?
  • AI "made in EU" - how to scale and export AI from Europe?
  • AI regulatory sandboxes - from theory to reality

What is special about the European AI Forum 2021?: Flagship conference in collaboration with 9 national AI-associations in the EU, including AI4SI - Slovenia, AI Austria, AI Poland, AI Sweden, AI Cluster Bulgaria, CroAI - the Croatian Artificial Intelligence Association, Hub France IA, KI Bundesverband - Germany, and NL AI Coalitie - the Dutch AI Coalition.

Dates of the 1st and 2nd European AI Forum 2020: 30 June 2020 and 10 December 2020 (watch replay of both AI events here:

European AI Regulation Workshop: 28 April 2021 LIVESTREAM

Twitter & event hashtag: @HubFranceIA  #EuropeanAIforum 

Program highlights: The European AI Forum through its national AI associations will provide a platform for a direct exchange with the European Commission about the AI regulation in Europe.

  • In conversation with Killian Gross, Head of the Artificial Intelligence Policy Development and Coordination Unit (DG CONNECT) and one of the leading figures behind the EU AI legislative proposal.

What is special about the first European AI forum?: The forum is addressed to entrepreneurs and stakeholders all over Europe, corporate companies, start-ups, research institutes, public organisations.

The network includes National European AI Associations (AI Austria, AI Bulgaria, Croatia CroAI, Hub France IA and Germany KI-Bundesverband), Slovenia AI - AI4SIAI Sweden and Netherlands - NL AI Coalitie) joining forces to set AI agenda in Europe, both in terms of policy and entrepreneurship.

European AI Forum Echange on AI Regulation

National AI Associations at the European AI Regulation Workshop 2021 


8.High Level Conference on AI by European Commission and the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council

Dates and location: 14-15 September 2021, HYBRID Web streaming and Brdo, Slovenia

High Level Conference on AI 2021 - European Commission

2021 High Level Conference on AI in EU

Key theme: From ambition to Action

  •  A Framework for Trustworthy AI
  • EU as a Hub for Cuting Edge AI

Twitter & event hashtag: @RoboticsEU @EU2021SI @InTouchAIeu  #AIHLC #AIAlliance #FromAmbitionToAction

Edition: follow up on the EU Proposal (April 2021) for a Regulation on Artificial Intelligence and the updated Coordinated Plan on AI as well as the previous editions of the European AI Alliance Assembly

Program highlights:  inspirational speeches, panel discussions and breakout sessions on governance, standartization and liability

  • European achievement and ambition in AI. Trustworthy AI - the role of law and regulation
  • International panel on regulation with views from international organisations
  • International reflections on global governance of AI

What is special about the event?: high level gathering in EU with international insights


European AI Alliance Assembly

European AI Alliance header

Key theme 2nd AI Alliance Assembly: Towards an AI ecosystem of excellence and trust

Twitter & AI Alliance Assembly hashtag: @RoboticsEU, @DSMeu #AIAlliance

2nd Edition: 9 October 2020

Program highlights of 2020 AI event: Uptake of AI in the public sector; the results of the Consultation on the European Commission AI White Paper; Conformity assessment, standards, and high-risk AI applications; AI and liability.

What is special about the EU AI Alliance Assembly?: The European AI Alliance is a forum that engages more than 4000 European citizens and stakeholders in a dialogue on the future of AI in Europe. It is key event for any thought leader and policymaker in the field of AI.


9. Internet Governance Forum IGF 2021

Dates and location: 6-10 December 2021, Katowice, Poland

Internet Governance Forum IGF 2021 Poland

Key theme: Internet United

Twitter & event hashtag: @intgovforum @igf_2021 #IGF2021

Edition: 16th

Program highlights: The thematic focus of #IGF2021 is being discussed. The event agenda will be published in July.

What is special about the Internet Governance Forum?: The IGF is a global multistakeholder platform that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the Internet.

The IGF 2019 was hosted in Berlin under the overarching theme: One World. One Net. One Vision.

The IGF 2020 was organised online under the theme: Internet for human resilience and solidarity.

Web: and

10. Applied Machine Learning Days - premier applied AI/ML European conference

Dates and location: starting from 25 January 2021, Lausanne, Switzerland MONTHLY ONLINE meetings throughout 2021 (see dates and themes below)

Applied Machine Learning Days in Europe

AMLD 2021

Key theme: Applied Machine Learning Days at EPFL in 2021 will consists of monthly thematically focused conferences with top speakers from around the world.

Twitter & event hashtag: @appliedmldays #AMLD2021

Edition: 3rd edition

Monthly themes highlights of #AMLD2021:

  • AI and Democracy (January 25)
  • AI and Food and Nutrition (March 1)
  • Clinical Machine Learning (March 18)
  • AI and Sustainable Energy (April 26)
  • AI and Topology (May 10)
  • Anticipating the future of Machine Learning (May 10)
  • AI and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic (June 28)
  • AI for risks in financial institutions (July 26)
  • AI and online business (July 26)
  • AI and Pharma (August 23)
  • AI and resilience in dynamic environments (October 25)
  • AI and Cities (December 2)

Program highlights of #AMLD2020: 29 tracks and talks, including on AI and Trust, AI and Industry, AI and Cities, AI and Policy, AI and Leadership, AI and Climate Change.

  • Opportunity to connect with selected new interesting startups in deep learning tech, ready to meet their next hire, client or investor.

What is special about Applied ML Days at EPFL?: 35 countries represented at AMLD EPFL 2020 (EPFL is one of Europe’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan science and tech institutions). It consists of hands-on sessions and tracks on machine learning and artificial intelligence with top speakers from around the world.

Audience profile from 2019 AMLD event: developers, technologists, CTOs, CIOs, managers, scientists, researchers, engineers, policy makers, machine learning experts and students.


11. CogX Festival 2021

Dates and location: 14-16 June 2021, Kings Cross, London, UK

The AI event CogX 2021 goes HYBRID with in-person, on-site stages and extended virtual experience.

CogX 2020 Festival of AI Blockchain and Breakthrough Technologies

CogX logo @cognition_x

Key theme: How Do We Get the Next 10 Years Right? (focus on all things AI, blockchain technology and other emerging tech)

The CogX 2021 tagline: ''The World’s Most Exciting Celebration of Innovation and Transformational Opportunities'', featuring the best of innovation and achievement in AI and Emerging Technology, including in AI growth and adoption practices.

Twitter & event hashtag: @cognition_x #CogX21

Edition: 5th edition - Global Leadership Summit and Festival of Transformational Technology

Program highlights: Topics include Global Leadership, Health, Wellbeing & COVID-19, Planet & Smart Cities, AI, Gen Z, Economy and the Future of Work, Quantum, Cyber & Defense, Next Gen Infrastructure and Cloud Services, FinTech and Financial Services, Ethics and Society. 

Some of the issues for reflection include: How can we prepare for future pandemics? What are the opportunities and pitfalls of digitising the justice system? What are the solutions on the urgent issues of the climate emergency, mental health, and ethical tech?

The year 2021 event will see the return of CogX most popular features:

  1. The Global Leadership Summit
  2. The fifth edition of the CogX Awards
  3. CogX Expo to discover and explore the latest in tech and AI
  4. Intelligent and serendipitous networking

What is special about CogX Festival 2021?:

  • The CogX Festival aims to be the biggest, most inclusive and forward-thinking gathering of leaders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, policy makers, artists, academics and activists. The 44,000 participants representing different disciplines, geographies and backgrounds joined Virtual CogX 2020.
  • CogX 2019 promoted AI for Good by encouraging its participants to point their Tools, Tech and Talent towards the UN 17 Global Goals (SDGs) and build a brighter future – for business, for humanity and for the planet.
  • CogX Festival 2021 will be hosted on the new platform
CogX 2019 conference supports SDGs

CogX 2019 Highlights - website


Alla Kos - Responsible AI SDGs Consultant Advisor Strategist

AI governance

Is your business aligned with the SDGs agenda?

12. World Summit AI 2021 - one of the top AI conferences promoting diversity and inclusion in AI & tech industry

Dates and location: 13-14 October 2021, Amsterdam, Netherlands

World Summit AI - WSAI 2021 Netherlands

Key theme: AI with Impact

Twitter & event hashtag: @WorldSummitAI #WSAI21

Edition: 5th (previously, WSAI 2017, WSAI 2018, WSAI 2019, WSAI 2020)

Program highlights: AI innovation, AI ethics, AI for Good, applied AI solutions for enterprise. The WSAI 2021 program includes curated meetings, table talks, masterclass sessions, and hands-on workshops.

  • High Level Panel on the European AI Act

What is special about WSAI?:

  • Leading summit gathering the global AI ecosystem of Enterprise, BigTech, Startups, Investors and Science, the brightest brains in AI, guided by the mission to tackle the most burning AI issues and set the global AI agenda.


13. OpenTalks.AI 2021 - Artificial Intelligence conference in Moscow, Russia

Dates and location: 3-5 February 2021 Moscow, Russia both OFFLINE & ONLINE 

OpenTalks AI 2021 Conference in Moscow Russia

Twitter & event hashtag: @OpenTalksAI  #opentalksai

Edition: 4th international conference (previous OpenTalks.AI 2018, 2019, 2020)

Program highlights: The AI event covers four thematic tracks:

  • Natural Language Processing; Optimization of neural networks and their development
  • Computer vision
  • Predictive analytics
  • Reinforcement learning & AGI
  • Tutorials and  Workshops


14. Data2030 Summit 2021 - Nordics and MEA

Dates and location: 8-11 February 2021

Data2030 Summit 2021 Data Strategies for AI-driven Organisations

Key theme: The latest methodologies, strategies and tools used by AI-driven organisations to address business critical Data Management challenges

Twitter & event hashtag: @Data2030Summit  #Data2030Summit

Edition: 5th

Program highlights: This special 2021 online edition goes beyond the Nordics (traditionally, Data2030 Summit has served as a knowledge-sharing and networking platform for practitioners in the Nordics) and extends its reach to the MEA region as well.

  • Ways of create an agile and modern strategy with sustainable Governance and Data Quality as a prerequisite for enterprise integration of Advanced Analytics and AI.


15. Global Technology Governance Summit - GTGS 2021

Dates and location: 6-7 April 2021, Tokyo, Japan

Global Technology Governance Summit 2021 in Tokyo Japan

Edition: 1st inaugural summit 

Program highlights: GTGS 2021 will cover the following key topic areas:

  • Industry Transformation
  • Government Transformation
  • Frontier Technologies


The extent to which the benefits of technology are maximized, and the risks mitigated depends on the quality of governance protocols – policies, norms, standards, and incentives that shape the development and deployment of technologies.

The World Economic Forum is convening the GTGS 2021 in collaboration with the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network. This global network comprises more than 40 governments and international organizations as well as 150 companies.


16. AI Expo Africa 2021 - the continent's largest B2B trade show and Artificial Intelligence conference

Dates and location: 7-9 September 2021, Cape Town, South Africa ONLINE

AI Expo Africa 2021 continent largest B2B trade show


Key theme: Automation and Intelligence for the future

Twitter & event hashtag: @aiexpoafrica #AIExpoAfrica

Edition: 4th edition 

Program highlights: AI Expo Africa 2021 program is organised around 6 key themes:

  • Innovation  – New to market solutions, innovations, start-up and investor centric success stories
  • Case Studies – Real world applications and benefits of deployment in a B2B / B2C context
  • Platforms & Panels – Latest developments from global, regional and local platform providers including panel discussions
  • Technical Demonstrations – Dedicated, deeper dive technical demonstrations of B2B / B2C solutions
  • Virtual Expo hall, Youth in AI Zone, AI4Good Zone, Women in AI Zone
  • NEW for 2021: an extra day allowing delegates to visit the exhibition hall, meet vendors, view posters and build own bespoke agenda

Topics for discussion and presentations include: 

  • Building AI for Good through global collaboration
  • AI ethics and policy issues

What is special about AI Expo Africa international conference?:

  • Focus on real world business AI applications
  • AI Expo Africa is the top business focused AI, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Data Science conference in Africa
  • The event brings together decision makers, investors, buyers, suppliers, innovators, small businesses and global brands in the region.


17. AI World Executive Summit 2021: The Future of AI / 

AI World Conference & Expo 2022 - the industry’s largest event on AI in the enterprise

Dates and location: AI 2020 event (Boston, USA) was postponed to 2021 and then to 2022, due to evolving information around the COVID 19 pandemic.

In the meantime, AI World Executive Summit: The Future of AI will take place on 14 July 2021 as a VIRTUAL conference.

AI World Conference & Expo 2022 Boston

Key theme for 2022: Accelerating AI ROI in the Enterprise

Twitter & event hashtag: @AIWorldExpo  #aiworld

Edition: 3rd (previously, in 2018, 2019)

Program highlights: visionary keynotes, industry use cases, and interactive panel discussion around the challenges and breakthroughs that will drive AI for the enterprise forward.

What is special about AI World & Expo?: Positioned as the must attend event for enterprise executives and decision makers from Global 2000 organisations and leaders from across the entire AI, machine learning and deep learning ecosystem. It's a platform designed for business and tech executives who want to learn about innovative implementations of AI in the enterprise through case studies and peer networking.


18. AI for Social Empowerment - RAISE Summit India

Dates and location: 5-6 October 2020, New Delhi, India

The event moved ONLINE (extended dates 5-9 October) as RAISE 2020 Virtual Global Summit.

Responsible AI for Social Empowerment Summit RAISE India

Key theme: Global consultation on using AI for social empowerment, inclusion and transformation in key areas like healthcare, agriculture, education and smart mobility for a better tomorrow.

Twitter & event hashtag: @RaiseAISummit #RAISE2020 #AIForAll

Edition: 1st edition - RAISE 2020 is India's first event organised by the Government in partnership with Industry and Academia.

Program highlights of RAISE 2020:

  • Main issues covered: Inclusion, Fintech, Agriculture, Health, Education, Skilling, Data, Ecosystem, Ethical AI, AI Governance, Infrastructure, Research, AI and Machine Learning for Smart Cities
  • Conversations on how to harness the power of AI to make a positive impact on society and how to reduce the risk of amplifying human biases

What is special about RAISE 2020 India?:

  • Global stage for thought leaders 
  • Focus on nurturing talent by exposure, recognition and guidance.


19. GPAI Summit 2021 - Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

Dates and location: 11-12 November 2021(GPAI's work is presented annually during a Multi-stakeholder Experts Group Plenary)

GPAI Montreal Summit 2020: 3-4 December 2020, Montreal, Canada Online event

GPAI Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence Summit

Key theme: AI in Action - encompassing look at where AI is and where it needs to go

Twitter & event hashtag: @GPAI_PMIA #GPAIsummit

Edition: 2nd international conference

Program highlights: The program is organised around 5 pillars:

  • Responsible Use of AI
  • Data Governance 
  • The Future of Work
  • AI and Pandemic Response
  • AI Innovation and Commercialisation

The Responsible AI Working Group has committed to deliver an action-oriented roadmap at the intersection of AI and climate action for the 2021 GPAI Summit.

What is special about GPAI Summit:

  • The Summit aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice. All activities of the GPAI are intended to foster responsible development of AI grounded in the principles of fundamental rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation and economic growth.


20. AI for Good Global Summit - best conference focusing on AI and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Dates and location: in 2021 ALL YEAR Always Online, Geneva, Switzerland

AI for Good Global Summit 2021

AI for Good Global Summit   @ITU_AIForGood

Key theme: Accelerating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Connecting AI innovators with problem owners to solve global challenges

Twitter & event hashtag: @ITU_AIForGood #AIforGood

Edition: 5th

Program highlights: The AI for Good Global Summit is presented as an all-year digital event, featuring weekly programming across multiple formats, platforms and time-zones, including keynotes, expert webinars, project pitches, Q&As, performances, demos, interviews, networking opportunities. Some examples of topics include: 

  • COVID-19: China’s digital health strategies against the global pandemic
  • Towards Responsible AI for Disaster Risk Management
  • Experience Russia’s Thriving AI Startup Ecosystem – Live Pitching Session
  • Creating Safe Digital Spaces for all through Esports and AI
  • Trustworthy AI: Steps toward Trustworthy Machine Learning

What is special about AI for Good Global Summit:

  • THE leading action-oriented, global and inclusive United Nations platform on AI and #AIforGood movement
  • A multi-stakeholder, inter-disciplinary approach


Alla Kos - Responsible AI SDGs Consultant Advisor Strategist

for Good

How your business can contribute to the SDGs?

21. AI for the Planet global conference

Dates and location: 16 February 2021 DIGITAL EXPERIENCE

AI for the Planet launch event

Key theme: AI for the Planet Initiative launching a series of monthly dialogues (Tuesdays Together for the Planet) that brings together experts and AI pioneers from all around the world to share use cases, identify best practices, celebrate successes and inspire further actions in this field.

Twitter & event hashtag: @Startup_inside_   #AIforthePlanet

Edition: 1st

Program highlights: AI for the Planet Initiative covers the following topics: Climate Change, Nature & Biodiversity Conservation, Waste & Pollution Management, The Future of Environmental Education & Reporting, Sustainable Mobility, Oceans, AI and Water, AgriTech.

What is special about AI for the Planet Initiative?: It promotes international collaboration across a range of stakeholders including researchers, policy makers, startups, technologists, citizen scientists and the private sector to ensure that AI is harnessed to contribute to the environmental sustainability.


22. AI and Human Rights Forum

Dates and location: 20-21 April 2021 Montreal, Canada ONLINE

AI and Human Rights Forum Montreal Canada 2021

Key theme: an open dialogue with leading AI and human rights experts

Twitter & event hashtag: @MIGSinstitute  

Edition: 2nd

Program highlights: Some of the topics that will be discussed include :

  1. AI and freedom of expression
  2. Misinformation and AI: friends or foes?
  3. From Surveillance to Digital Authoritarianism
  4. AI and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals 

What is special about this forum?:

  • 2021 virtual Forum will bring together NGOs, tech companies, foundations and governments around the globe that understand the need to collaborate. The forum aims to serve as an incubator for forming new partnerships between academics, nonprofits, the United Nations and the private sector.

Web: and (event registration)

23. IAIA 2020 Seville: Smartening Impact Assessment in Challenging Times

Dates and location: 18-21 May, 2021, Seville, Spain VIRTUAL

IAIA 2021 International Impact Assessment Conference Seville

Key theme: The IAIA 2021 Seville conference aims to explore related scientific, technological and governance developments to reflect on whether the impact assessment community is getting any smarter at bridging the science and art of impact assessment and how to make best use of scientific innovation to address pressing global and local challenges.

Impact assessment, simply defined, is the process of identifying the future consequences of a current or proposed action. IAIA is the leading global network on best practice in the use of impact assessment for informed decision making regarding policies, programs, plans and projects. Impact assessment is a practical tool for helping meet today's needs without compromising the opportunities of future generations..

Twitter & AI event hashtag: @IAIAnetwork  #IAIA21

Edition: 40th annual event of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA)

Program highlights: The IAIA 2021 conference will be structured in 10 thematic streams including:

  • The role of impact assessment in addressing global challenges
  • Technology, data and innovation: A move towards better global coordination in addressing pressing challenges
  • Decision impacts: How is impact assessment truly influencing decisions?
  • Strengthening the effectiveness of impact assessment through collaboration
  • Impact assessment and management through technological advancements including online tools
  • Information overload and impact assessment: Effectively communicating risks and uncertainties

What is special about IAIA Seville international conference?

  • IAIA is the only international, interdisciplinary conference dedicated to the art and science of impact assessment.
  • Diversity in participants of IAIA conferences, coming from different sectors: consultancies, government, industry, academia, research institutes, donor agencies, development banks and NGOs in over 80 countries.
  • IAIA is the leading global network on impact assessment.


Do we need impact assessments for disruptive digital technologies? If not, what would be the alternative? If we don’t create at least basic assessment systems to ensure we’re using next-generation technologies for our benefit and to advance social cohesion, carbon-neutrality and sustainability, we put our future at risk. 

from blog

24. RightsCon 2021 - World's leading conference on fundamental rights and AI in the digital age

Dates and location: 7-11 June, 2021 ONLINE 

RightsCon 2021 Human Rights in Digital Age


Key theme: Human Rights in the Digital Age

Note: In 2020 the organizers received more than twice as many proposals on AI as they did in 2019.

Twitter & event hashtag: @rightscon #RightsCon

Edition: 10th annual Summit

Program highlights: Selected categories that are informing program tracks:

  • Artificial Intelligence, Automation and the Algorithm
  • New Models for Business and Labor
  • Digital Security for Individuals and Communities
  • Cyber Norms, Accountability and Practice
  • Rights-Centered Design
  • AI principles, Privacy and Surveillance (including use of facial recognition technology)
  • Justice, Documentation and Investigation
  • Trade, Innovation and Intellectual Property

What is special about RightsCon?:

  • RightsCon is bringing together business leaders, policy makers, general counsels, technologists, advocates, academics, government representatives, and journalists from around the world to tackle the most pressing issues at the intersection of fundamental rights and innovative technology
  • As in-person event, RightsCon convenes 1,000+ expert speakers across a range of sectors, industries and communities and attracts some of the world’s leading voices. In 2020, the online format of the RightsCon turned out to be the largest, most inclusive event in their history with 7,681 participants from 157 countries joining more than 309 sessions.
  • RightsCon speakers included e.g. CEO of Reddit, CloudFlare, President of Microsoft, Head of WhatsApp, Head of Cyber security Policy at Facebook, Global Lead Strategy and Policy at Google, Global Engagement Lead at Mozilla, Executive Director at Mozilla Foundation, Director Digital Diplomacy at Microsoft.
  • For its 10th anniversary, the RightsCon 2021 will take place entirely online and across every time zone.


25. UN World Data Forum 2021

Dates and location: 3-6 October 2021, Bern, Switzerland

United Nations World Data Forum 2021

Key theme: Delivering better data for evidence-based policymaking 

Twitter & event hashtag: @UNDataForum #UNDataForum

Edition: 4th edition (2021)

Program highlights: The Program is organised around six main thematic areas.

What is special about this forum?: It serves as a platform for intensifying cooperation with various professional groups, such as IT, data science, geospatial information managers and users, as well as civil society stakeholders.


26. UN Forum on Business and Human Rights 2021

Dates and location: 29 November - 1 December 2021, Geneva, Switzerland ONLINE

UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

Key theme: Taking stock of the first 10 years of the UN Guiding Principles and developing a roadmap for the next decade (“UNGPs 10+”).

Twitter & event hashtag: @WGBizHRs  #UNForumBHR #BizHumanRights

Edition: 10th edition

Program highlights:

  • Looking back at progress and challenges to-date and inspiring a renewed push for scaled-up global implementation of the UNGPs on Business and Human Rights by States, businesses and other actors in the decade ahead. 
  • Considering context: convergence of crises ranging from the ongoing human and financial costs of COVID-19 pandemic to the existential climate crisis, growing inequality, systemic and pervasive gender and racial discrimination, shrinking civic space, and human consequences of technological developments.  

What is special about the UN Forum?: It seeks to facilitate dialogue not only on trends and challenges, but most importantly to promote collaboration on solutions and identifying good practices in implementing the UN Guiding Principles worldwide, across particular sectors, operational environments or in relation to specific rights or groups. 

The 2019 event brought together over 2,400 participants from more than 130 countries. For the first time in eight years, more than 30 percent of participants came from the private sector.


Alla Kos - Responsible AI SDGs Consultant Advisor Strategist


Aware of Human Rights risks of your AI system?

Additions to top AI event 2021 list

Other notable gatherings with a strong research angle that need to be highlighted are the following:

AAAI 2021 virtual conference

The 35th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence on 2-9 February 2021: the purpose of the AAAI conference is to promote research in artificial intelligence and scientific exchange among AI researchers, practitioners, scientists and engineers in affiliated disciplines. This year it includes Responsible AI in Industry tutorial. More details: website and Twitter @RealAAAI #AAAI2021 online conversations.

ICML 2021

The 38th International Conference on Machine Learning  will be held online on 18-24 July 2021 including main sessions, Expo, Tutorials and Workshops. Some topics of interest: General Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Trustworthy Machine Learning. More details: website and Twitter @icmlconf #ICML2021 conversations.

MVML 2021 virtual

The 7th International Conference on Machine Vision and Machine Learning (29-31 July 2021): it aims to become the leading annual gathering for scholars from all over the world in fields related to machine vision and machine learning. Some topics included: Artificial Intelligence for Machine Vision, Neurocomputing, Pattern Recognition. See website for more details.

IJCAI 2021

The 30th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence - Montreal, Canada (21-26 August 2021). It is created for dissemination and exchange of information on Artificial Intelligence between AI researchers and practitioners. According to the call for proposals, it is optional for authors to include a statement of the potential broader impact of their research and work, including its ethical aspects and future societal consequences. Hopefully, most applicants will opt in. More details: website and Twitter @IJCAIconf #IJCAI2021 conversations.

As one popular tweet by a young computer vision professional mentioned: It took a pandemic to make it possible to attend several professional gatherings in a single year e.g. European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV), International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR), ICML and NeurIPS (Neural Information Processing Systems) Conference.

Tweet quote It took COVID 19 pandemic to make conferences more inclusive

Although this list of AI events for business industry leaders is quite comprehensive, it might not be exaustive. Some other important gatherings on AI and AI governance could be added throughout the year, simply because not all the organisations announce their full calendar well in advance.

Over To You

So, here you have it. I hope that you find this updated list of top AI conferences 2021 useful for your work, business and professional development.

What is your best Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning conference 2021 and why? How are you engaging with the speakers, participants and conversations? Leave your comments below or connect on social media, LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you wish to stay on top of AI policy and risk assessment issues, emerging AI regulation trends and good business practices, please join my Responsible Artificial Intelligence newsletter.

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Let's shape AI emerging technology responsibly, so that it could achieve its big promise to generate value for the whole society. ⚙️📌

Updated for the year 2021.

About the author Alla Kos

I'm the Founder of Responsible AI Innovation consultancy helping companies, organisations and ambitious business leaders achieve sustainable long-term growth by implementing Good Governance practices, developing or deploying Trustworthy AI systems, and using Artificial Intelligence technology for Social Good.

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