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UN Meets First Time To Discuss AI, Calls For Regulation

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The first meeting of the United Nations Security Council over threats posed by artificial intelligence to international peace and stability was held on Tuesday. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged for forming a new global body to aid in the utilization of AI, reported New York Times.

With the intent of AI’s regulation, Guterres stated that artificial intelligence has a lot of risks as well as benefits, with its regular development, and thereby the international body has a chance to form globally supported rules for its monitoring and regulation.

Additionally, Guterres stated that by 2026, the United Nations must produce a formal agreement that forbids the use of AI in automated weapons of war. Tweeting his decision, Guterres wrote, “Today I urged the Security Council to approach Artificial Intelligence with a sense of urgency, a global lens, and a learner’s mindset. We must work together towards common measures for the transparency, accountability, and oversight of AI systems.”

The New York Times stated that Russia dissented from the Council’s majority position and voiced doubt that enough was known about AI’s dangers to make such a claim.

In an effort to stop the technology from becoming “a runaway wild horse,” the Chinese government urged that UN regulations should take developing nations’ perspectives into consideration.

According to Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun, who also criticised unnamed “developed countries” for attempting to dominate AI, said that international rules and conventions regarding AI should be flexible to provide countries the freedom to set their own national-level restrictions.

“Certain developed countries, in order to seek technological hegemony, make efforts to build their exclusive small clubs and maliciously obstruct the technological development of other countries and artificially create technological barriers,” CNN quoted Zhang as saying. “China firmly opposes these behaviours,” he further said.

During the meeting, a representative of the United States said that “no member state should use AI to censor, constrain, repress, or disempower people”—possibly a subliminal critique of China’s use of technology to monitor ethnic minorities. However, the official avoided directly responding to the Chinese government’s accusations.

James Cleverly, the UK foreign secretary who presided over the meeting, urged that the principles of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, adherence to the rule of law, physical security, privacy protection, and trustworthiness be incorporated into the international governance of artificial intelligence (AI).

“We are here today because AI will affect the work of this council,” Cleverly added.

“It could enhance or disrupt global strategic stability. It challenges our fundamental assumptions about defence and deterrence. It poses moral questions about accountability for lethal decisions on the battlefield…. AI could aid the reckless quest for weapons of mass destruction by state and non-state actors alike. But it could also help us stop proliferation,” CNN quoted Cleverly as saying.

According to the NYT, the UN Secretary-General pushed for the creation of a UN watchdog that would operate as a governing body to oversee, monitor, and enforce AI legislation in a manner similar to how other organisations control nuclear energy, aviation, and the environment.

The proposed institution would be made up of subject-matter specialists who would share their knowledge with governments and administrative bodies that might not have the necessary technological expertise to face AI risks.

The possibility of a binding decision regarding how to govern it, though, is still far off. Nevertheless, according to the NYT, the majority of diplomats supported the idea of an international governing body and a set of regulations.

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