UN Adopts First Global Resolution on Artificial Intelligence

On March 24, 2024, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the first global resolution on Artificial Intelligence (AI). The resolution, sponsored by the United States and co-sponsored by 123 countries, including Russia, China, and Cuba, aims to ensure that the powerful new technology benefits all nations, respects human rights, and is safe, secure, and trustworthy.

Background

The rapid development of AI technology has raised concerns about its potential risks and benefits, including its impact on human rights, personal data protection, and democratic processes. The resolution is the latest in a series of initiatives by governments around the world to shape AI’s development and mitigate its potential harms.

Key Objectives

The resolution seeks to address several key objectives, including:

  • Closing the digital divide between developed and developing countries
  • Ensuring that developing countries have the technology and capabilities to benefit from AI
  • Safeguarding human rights and protecting personal data
  • Monitoring AI for risks and potential harms
  • Strengthening privacy policies
  • Global Collaboration

The United States worked with more than 120 countries at the United Nations, including Russia, China, and Cuba, to negotiate the text of the resolution over the past few months. The unanimous adoption of the resolution demonstrates the global commitment to governing AI and ensuring its responsible development and use.

Impact on Developing Countries

The resolution emphasizes the importance of closing the digital divide between developed and developing countries, ensuring that all nations have a seat at the table in discussions on AI. It also aims to provide developing countries with the technology and capabilities to take advantage of AI’s benefits, such as detecting diseases, predicting floods, helping farmers, and training the next generation of workers.

Important Facts for Exams

  • The resolution is nonbinding, meaning that it does not carry legal consequences for member states.
  • Europe is ahead of the United States in terms of AI regulation, with EU lawmakers adopting a provisional agreement this month to oversee the technology.
  • The Biden administration has been pressing U.S. lawmakers for AI regulation, but a polarized U.S. Congress has made little headway.
  • In October, the White House sought to reduce AI risks to consumers, workers, and minorities while bolstering national security with a new executive order, as a baseline set of principles to guide next steps in AI’s development and use.

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