UN General Assembly adopts landmark resolution on artificial intelligence

News Excerpt:

The UN General Assembly approved the first United Nations resolution on artificial intelligence, giving global support to an international effort to ensure that this powerful new technology benefits all nations, respects human rights, and is “safe, secure, and trustworthy.”

More on the news:

  • The resolution, sponsored by the United States and co-sponsored by 123 countries, including China, was adopted by consensus and without a vote, meaning it has the support of all 193 U.N. member nations.

Key highlights of the resolution:

  • The resolution aims to close the digital divide between rich, developed and poorer developing countries and ensure they are all at the table in discussions on AI. 
    • It also aims to ensure that developing countries have the technology and capabilities to take advantage of AI's benefits, including detecting diseases, predicting floods, helping farmers, and training the next generation of workers.
  • The resolution recognizes the rapid acceleration of AI development and use and stresses “the urgency of achieving global consensus on safe, secure and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems.”
  • It also recognizes that “the governance of artificial intelligence systems is an evolving area” that requires further discussion of possible governance approaches. 
    • It stresses that innovation and regulation are mutually reinforcing, not mutually exclusive.
  • The resolution encourages all countries, regional and international organizations, tech communities, civil society, the media, academia, research institutions and individuals “to develop and support regulatory and governance approaches and frameworks” for safe AI systems.
  • It warns against “improper or malicious design, development, deployment and use of artificial intelligence systems, such as without adequate safeguards or in a manner inconsistent with international law.”
  • According to the resolution, a key goal is to use AI to help spur progress toward achieving the U.N.’s badly lagging development goals for 2030, including ending global hunger and poverty, improving health worldwide, ensuring quality secondary education for all children and achieving gender equality.
  • The resolution calls on the 193 U.N. member states and others to assist developing countries in accessing the benefits of digital transformation and safe AI systems. 
    • It “emphasizes that human rights and fundamental freedoms must be respected, protected and promoted through the life cycle of artificial intelligence systems.”

Regulations regarding the use of AI across the globe:

  • European Union lawmakers gave final approval recently to the world’s first comprehensive AI rules.
  • Countries worldwide, including the U.S. and China, and the Group of 20 major industrialised nations are also moving to draw up AI regulations.
  • The U.N. resolution takes note of other U.N. efforts including by Secretary-General António Guterres and the International Telecommunication Union to ensure that AI is used to benefit the world.
  • Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they are a barometer of world opinion.

Conclusion:

AI must be in the public interest – it must be adopted and advanced in a way that protects everyone from potential harm and ensures everyone is able to enjoy its benefits.

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