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The UN’s Historic Resolution on Ethical AI Governance

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As the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies continues to reshape the world, the need for responsible governance and oversight has become increasingly evident. In a landmark decision, the United Nations General Assembly has taken a pivotal step forward in the regulation and promotion of artificial intelligence technologies with the adoption of a groundbreaking resolution.

Image credits: UN News

Led by the United States and co-sponsored by over 120 Member States, this resolution underscores the imperative of developing and utilising AI systems that are not only technologically advanced but also safe, secure, and trustworthy. At its core, the resolution seeks to harness the transformative potential of AI while upholding fundamental human rights and advancing sustainable development goals on a global scale.

The adoption of this resolution represents a significant milestone in international efforts to navigate the complex landscape of AI governance. For the first time in its history, the General Assembly has formally recognised the need to regulate the burgeoning field of AI, acknowledging its profound impact on societies worldwide. The resolution serves as a testament to the growing recognition of AI’s potential to drive progress across various sectors, from healthcare and education to economic development and environmental sustainability.

Central to the resolution’s principles is the paramount importance of upholding human rights in the development and deployment of AI systems. It emphasises the need to respect, protect, and promote human rights throughout all stages of the AI lifecycle, including design, development, deployment, and usage. By affirming the principle that the same rights enjoyed offline must also be safeguarded online, the resolution underscores the necessity of accountability and ethical governance in the realm of AI.

Furthermore, the resolution highlights AI’s role in advancing sustainable development goals, recognising its potential to accelerate progress towards achieving the ambitious targets set forth by the United Nations. By harnessing the power of AI-driven innovation, Member States can unlock new opportunities for inclusive growth, enhance access to essential services, and address pressing global challenges such as poverty, inequality, and climate change.

A key aspect of the resolution is its call for collaboration and cooperation among Member States and stakeholders to bridge the technological divide and ensure equitable access to AI technologies. Recognising the varying levels of technological development between and within countries, the resolution urges support for developing nations to help them leverage AI for inclusive and sustainable development. By closing the digital divide and enhancing digital literacy, Member States can empower individuals and communities to fully participate in the digital economy and society.

Speaking before the adoption of the resolution, US Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, underscored the importance of governing AI technology responsibly. She emphasised the opportunity and responsibility of the international community to shape the future of AI, ensuring that it aligns with principles of humanity, dignity, safety, and security. Thomas-Greenfield called for a collective commitment to using AI as a tool for advancing shared priorities and closing digital disparities, thereby fostering a more equitable and inclusive world.

The adoption of this historic resolution by the UN General Assembly marks a significant milestone in the global dialogue on AI governance. By promoting the development and use of safe, secure, and trustworthy AI systems, Member States are laying the groundwork for a future where AI serves as a force for positive change, driving sustainable development and advancing human well-being. As we embark on this transformative journey, it is imperative that we remain vigilant in safeguarding human rights, promoting ethical AI governance, and ensuring that the benefits of AI are shared by all.

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