April 20, 2024
Tech

UN passes first global Artificial Intelligence resolution

All 193 UN member states endorse the initiative

In a historic move, the United Nations General Assembly has unanimously adopted a groundbreaking resolution to promote the development of “safe, secure, and trustworthy” artificial intelligence (AI) systems, focusing on fostering sustainable development worldwide.

This is the first global resolution on AI that urges all countries to safeguard human rights, protect personal data, and monitor AI for risks.

Proposed by the United States and co-sponsored by more than 120 other nations, the non-binding resolution was passed without opposition on March 21, 2024, at the UN headquarters in New York.

The resolution underscored the imperative of upholding human rights in all aspects of AI design, development, deployment, and utilisation.

This resolution marks the first time the UN General Assembly has formally addressed the regulation of AI, reflecting growing global awareness of its importance.

Historic advancement

According to reports, the US National Security Advisor hailed the adoption of the resolution as a historic advancement in ensuring the safe utilisation of AI technologies.

Central to the resolution is recognising AI’s potential to accelerate progress towards achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It calls upon nations and stakeholders to refrain from using AI systems that violate international human rights laws or pose undue risks to individuals’ rights and freedoms.

“The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including throughout the life cycle of artificial intelligence systems,” affirmed the Assembly.

In addition to urging regulatory and governance frameworks for the safe use of AI, the resolution acknowledges the varying levels of technological advancement among countries and the challenges developing nations face in keeping pace with rapid innovation.

It calls for increased cooperation and support to bridge the digital divide and enhance digital literacy globally.

Blueprint hope

Before the resolution was adopted, US Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield introduced the draft, hoping that the collaborative dialogue leading to its formulation would serve as a blueprint for addressing AI challenges in other spheres, including peace and security.

Thomas-Greenfield said: “Today [March 21, 2024], all 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly have spoken in one voice and, together, chosen to govern artificial intelligence rather than let it govern us.”

Thomas-Greenfield stressed the resolution’s alignment with existing UN initiatives and underscored the need for international cooperation in responsibly governing AI technologies.

She stated: “We intend for it to complement future UN initiatives, including negotiations toward a global digital compact and the work of the [UN] Secretary-General’s high-level advisory body on artificial intelligence.”

She urged the international community to govern AI technologies that uphold human dignity, safety, and security while advancing shared priorities for sustainable development and closing the digital gap between nations.

Adopting this resolution signals a critical step in shaping the ethical and regulatory frameworks necessary to harness AI’s potential for humanity’s benefit while safeguarding fundamental rights and values.

Featured file image: A view of the UN General Assembly in session. Credit: Loey Felipe/UN

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto is an award-winning journalist with wide-ranging Middle East and Asia experience in the tech, aerospace, defence, luxury watchmaking, business, automotive, and fashion verticals. He is passionate about conserving endangered native wildlife globally. Arnold enjoys 4x4 off-roading, camping and exploring global destinations off the beaten track.
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