UN general assembly adopts its first AI resolution

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(Image credit: Shutterstock / Alexandros Michailidis)

The United Nations (UN) general assembly has adopted a resolution set forth by the US on developing “safe, secure and trustworthy” artificial intelligence.

The resolution was backed by a further 120 member states of the UN, and was adopted without a vote, highlighting “the respect, protection and promotion of human rights in the design, development, deployment and the use of AI,” the statement said.

This is the first resolution adopted by the UN on AI, and marks a “historic step forward” for all members on the development and use of AI.

A step in the right direction

While it has taken some time for the UN to adopt any regulation on AI, it marks an historic progression, with the body urging member states themselves to also pursue regulation of AI within their own private and public sectors.

The Assembly called upon its members to protect their peoples rights both online and offline, and 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.”

The resolution also paves the way towards greater cooperation between member states to advance the “varying levels” of technological and economic development between UN members to “close the digital divide.”

The resolution builds upon work already undertaken by the UN to protect human rights and advance the prospects of its less prosperous members through institutions such as the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

US Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said that the resolution will give humanity the ability “to govern this technology rather than let it govern us.”

She continued, stating, “So let us reaffirm that AI will be created and deployed through the lens of humanity and dignity, safety and security, human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

“Let us commit to closing the digital gap within and between nations and using this technology to advance shared priorities around sustainable development.”

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict Collins is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro covering privacy and security. Before settling into journalism he worked as a Livestream Production Manager, covering games in the National Ice Hockey League for 5 years and contributing heavily to the advancement of livestreaming within the league. Benedict is mainly focused on security issues such as phishing, malware, and cyber criminal activity, but he also likes to draw on his knowledge of geopolitics and international relations to understand the motives and consequences of state-sponsored cyber attacks.

He has a MA in Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy, alongside a BA in Politics with Journalism, both from the University of Buckingham. His masters dissertation, titled 'Arms sales as a foreign policy tool,' argues that the export of weapon systems has been an integral part of the diplomatic toolkit used by the US, Russia and China since 1945. Benedict has also written about NATO's role in the era of hybrid warfare, the influence of interest groups on US foreign policy, and how reputational insecurity can contribute to the misuse of intelligence.

Outside of work Ben follows many sports; most notably ice hockey and rugby. When not running or climbing, Ben can most often be found deep in the shrubbery of a pub garden.