By Ellen McGirt
Updated: June 12, 2018 10:38 AM ET

The conversations from Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women International Summit in London have been candid and, in some cases, alarming.

Laura Boldrini, the former president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies — their lower house of parliament — shared pointedly about the abuse she regularly receives for her advocacy on behalf of refugee rights. It’s not just the anonymous masses, either — Matteo Salvini, the leader of the right-wing League party, and now Italy’s minister of the interior, has compared her to a blow-up sex doll and posted cries for her to be raped or killed on social media.

“Why do we as women have to accept this? Why is this considered almost normal?” she asked. Instead of challenging her progressive views, Boldrini says Matteo is using “sexism as a political weapon, instigation to rape as a political weapon.”

While still in parliament, Boldrini established a committee to assess hate and hate speech in the country, the first EU country to conduct such a survey. The report, released last summer, found that women were the most likely to be targeted by hate, followed by the LGBTQ community and migrants.

Boldrini offers a solution. “We have to start with boys, with men,” she says. “We have to educate them on supporting equal rights.”

The dark side of human nature also pre-occupies Joanna Shields, CEO of Benevolent AI, a healthcare start-up, and an alum of Google, Facebook, and the British government. Her prescription is similar: Educate everybody.

Shields describes herself as a skeptic of the “tech will bring the world closer” ethos that described early social media, and fears that unrestrained use of AI will yield unanticipated social ills far beyond “fake news.” She recommends businesses, non-profits, researchers, and governments come together to create policies about how AI will be used.

“The digital revolution was a dress rehearsal for what’s to come,” said Shields. “AI will change our lives in ways that we don’t truly understand.”


Find more coverage of Fortune’s MPW International Summit on and at #FortuneMPW and #MPWSummit on social media.


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