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UN General Assembly sets international guidelines for AI

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has adopted a resolution for “protected and trustworthy” AI systems which are consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The draft code of conduct, supported by over 120 Member States, underlines the worldwide commitment to integrating human rights considerations into the lifecycle of AI, from design to deployment.

The General Assembly is a crucial forum throughout the United Nations, bringing together all 193 member states to debate implications for the international community. This moderately informal decision is just not accompanied by a vote, but is “co-supported” by the members.

This resolution drafted by the USA available hererecognizes the potential of AI to speed up progress toward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of social and economic strategies to steer the international community toward a more prosperous and stable future.

The resolution also recognizes the growing digital divide with the siloing of AI power in western and developed countries – especially the USA.

It calls for international solidarity and support to empower developing countries to make sure inclusive and equitable access to technology to shut the digital divide and improve global digital literacy.

The United States National Security Advisor described the resolution as “historical progress” within the control of AI.

In her remarks prior to the resolution, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, emphasized the collective effort that led to this consensus, stating: “The inclusive and constructive dialogue that led to this resolution can be considered Serve as a model for future conversations on AI challenges.”

She explained the resolution's role in supporting the work of the United Nations, including contributions from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), UNESCO and the Human Rights Council, to create a universal approach to AI governance.

Thomas-Greenfield said the United Nations must “govern this technology moderately than be governed by it” and be guided by “humanity and dignity, security, human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The key points of the resolution include:

  1. International law and human rights: The resolution reaffirms the importance of the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements and declarations.
  2. Support for sustainable development: It recognizes the potential of secure and trustworthy AI systems to speed up progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by promoting economic, social and environmental sustainability.
  3. Call for global cooperation: The resolution encourages Member States and other stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society, to cooperate in developing regulatory and governance frameworks for AI.
  4. Focus on developing countries: It highlights the challenges facing developing countries in maintaining with AI. It urges greater support for these countries to make sure inclusive and equitable access to AI technologies.
  5. Human-centered AI: The resolution discusses human-centered AI systems and calls for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any respect stages of the life cycle of AI systems, from design to decommissioning.
  6. Inclusive and equitable AI development: The document promotes the event and deployment of AI systems in a way that’s inclusive, equitable and useful for all, especially developing countries and vulnerable populations.
  7. Data management and cross-border data flows: It recognizes the role of information in AI development and calls for robust data management.
  8. Private sector involvement: The resolution encourages the private sector to abide by international and domestic laws, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

This joins a growing variety of international frameworks and standards calling for AI governance, notably the EU's AI Act.


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