On Friday, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the international community to take preventive and control measures with regard to artificial intelligence.
The resolution was jointly introduced by South Korea, Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Morocco and Singapore.
China and India said they disagreed but did not ask that the resolution be put to a vote, a common practice when countries are unhappy with a resolution but do not want to block it.
Beijing said the text contained “controversial” elements, without elaborating.
The resolution calls for enhancing the “transparency” of AI systems and ensuring that data for this technology is “collected, used, shared, stored and deleted” in ways that are consistent with human rights.
The board has looked at new technologies as a whole before, but for the first time it has so closely examined the development of artificial intelligence.
This decision emphasized the importance of “ensuring, promoting and protecting human rights throughout the life of artificial intelligence systems,” said South Korean Ambassador Yoon Seung-duk, while his US counterpart Michelle Taylor saw the decision as a “step forward” for the council.
For his part, Belgian Ambassador Marc Becstein de Petserve declared on behalf of the European Union, “We are in full agreement when the resolution stresses the need, among other things, for preventive measures, due care and human oversight in relation to artificial intelligence,” calling for a “cautious approach” to ensure the protection and respect of human rights. In a world where technology is developing rapidly.
Given their great technical complexity, AI systems are as impressive as they are disturbing. If they are able to save lives through the qualitative leap in diagnosing diseases, they are also exploited by authoritarian regimes to exercise collective control over citizens.
United Nations representatives as well as leaders and experts have recently doubled down on calls for regulations so that these new technologies do not put humanity at risk.
British Ambassador Simon Manley on Friday called for “guarantees” and stressed that his country is hosting a summit on artificial intelligence in the fall “to reach agreement on security measures and to assess and monitor important risks related to recent developments.”
“We are deeply concerned about the use of technology to restrict human rights,” including the infringement of “privacy,” he said.
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