UNGA Steers Use of Safe, Secure, Trustworthy AI for Sustainable Development | News | SDG Knowledge Hub | IISD – IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub

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The UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution steering the use of artificial intelligence (AI) towards global good. The UNGA resolved to bridge the AI and other digital divides between and within countries and promote safe, secure, and trustworthy AI systems to accelerate progress towards the full realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The US-led resolution titled, ‘Seizing the opportunities of safe, secure and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems for sustainable development’ (A/78/L.49) was backed by more than 120 Member States. The UNGA adopted it on 11 March 2024 without a vote.

By the text, the UNGA encourages Member States and stakeholders to “develop and support regulatory and governance approaches and frameworks… [to] create an enabling ecosystem at all levels.” It calls on all Member States and stakeholders “to refrain from or cease the use of artificial intelligence systems that are impossible to operate in compliance with international human rights law or that pose undue risks to the enjoyment of human rights.”

To ensure “inclusive and equitable access to the benefits of digital transformation and safe, secure and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems,” the UNGA calls on Member States and invites stakeholders to, inter alia:

  • Expand participation of all countries, in particular developing countries, in digital transformation;
  • Enhance digital infrastructure connectivity and access to technological innovations through stronger partnerships;
  • Enhance the ability of developing countries, in particular the least developed countries (LDCs), to address structural impediments to accessing the benefits of new and emerging technologies and AI innovation to achieve all 17 SDGs;
  • Urgently mobilize means of implementation such as technology transfer on mutually agreed terms, capacity building to close the AI and other digital divides, and technical assistance; and
  • “Aim[] to increase” funding for the SDGs related to research and innovation.

Introducing the resolution, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, emphasized the responsibility of the international community “to govern this technology rather than let it govern us.” Underscoring the need for AI to be “created and deployed through the lens of humanity and dignity, safety and security, human rights and fundamental freedoms,” she called for commitment to “closing the digital gap within and between nations and using this technology to advance shared priorities around sustainable development.” [UNGA Meetings Coverage: 21 March 2024] [UN News Story]

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