United Nations Establishes 39-Member Committee for AI Governance

In an announcement made on 26 October, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres revealed the establishment of a 39-member advisory committee dedicated to addressing global issues related to artificial intelligence (AI) regulation.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, said:

“I have called for a global, multidisciplinary, multistakeholder conversation on the governance of AI so that its benefits to humanity – all of humanity – are maximised, and the risks contained and diminished.”

Global Representation Among UN AI Committee Members

The committee boasts a notably diverse composition, featuring experts from various sectors, leaders from the tech industry, government officials representing nations like Spain and Saudi Arabia, as well as scholars from countries such as the United States, Russia, and Japan.

Renowned individuals among the committee members include Hiroaki Kitano, who serves as the Chief Technology Officer at Sony; Mira Murati, the Chief Technology Officer of OpenAI; and Natasha Crampton, holding the position of Chief Responsible AI Officer at Microsoft.

This committee representation spans across six continents, offering a mosaic of backgrounds and perspectives, from AI expert Vilas Dhar in the United States to Professor Yi Zeng from China and Egyptian lawyer Mohamed Farahat.

Artificial Intelligence Dual Nature

Secretary-General Guterres, in his official statement, acknowledged the positive impact of AI but also highlighted its potential for malicious use.

“For developing economies, AI offers the possibility of leapfrogging outdated technologies and bringing services directly to people who need them most. The transformative potential of AI for good is difficult even to grasp. And without entering into a host of doomsday scenarios, it is already clear that the malicious use of AI could undermine trust in institutions, weaken social cohesion and threaten democracy itself.”

This acknowledgment of AI’s multifaceted nature highlights the critical need to address its global governance urgently.

The increase in global interest and apprehension regarding AI’s societal impacts, especially with the introduction of technologies like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, have motivated researchers and policymakers worldwide to advocate for intensified international cooperation.

Governments are currently engaged in the development of regulatory frameworks for AI.

China’s Push for AI Governance

China has recently been advocating for the establishment of global AI governance measures, highlighting the importance of international cooperation in addressing the challenges associated with the rapid advancement of AI.

United Nations AI Governance

The United Nations is taking proactive steps in this direction.

It plans to release preliminary recommendations by the end of the year, with comprehensive guidelines scheduled for the summer of 2024.

Immediate priorities include fostering a global scientific consensus on potential AI-related risks and challenges while bolstering international cooperation in AI governance.

The committee’s first meeting is scheduled on the 27 October.

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