In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) transcends national borders. As AI systems advance, there is a pressing need for international rules and norms to govern their development and deployment. The question is not whether we should have international governance for AI, but rather how we can ensure it is truly global and inclusive.
The current landscape of AI governance
As of October 2023, the frameworks shaping the future of technological development are primarily being driven by a few key players. The United States, predominantly through corporate tech giants, China through its government-led initiatives, and the European Union via the EU AI Act are leading the way. While these initiatives are essential, they do not represent the full spectrum of global perspectives and interests in AI.
The recent Indian G20 summit touched upon digital public infrastructure, but broader global discussions on AI governance are noticeably absent. This raises concerns about whether the global AI governance landscape is becoming dominated by a handful of nations, potentially sidelining the interests and perspectives of others.
The case for a global approach
Three compelling reasons underscore the need for a wider global approach to shaping AI norms and standards:
Addressing economic inequalities
Historical evidence shows that policy decisions around technology can determine who benefits from it. In an already highly unequal world, AI has the potential to widen the economic gaps between countries if not designed with equity in mind. The countries that actively participate in shaping AI norms and standards have a competitive advantage in aligning them with their interests. A global approach can help prevent further entrenchment of economic inequalities.
Ensuring global buy-in
For international AI governance to be effective, it must have widespread global buy-in. Without consensus on norms and standards, there is a risk that some countries may not adhere to them, leading to a race to the bottom or “AI Nationalism.” This race could involve unchecked development and deployment of AI technologies, potentially posing risks to international security and stability. Additionally, without shared buy-in, countries might miss out on opportunities to shape AI technology according to their societal norms, leading to lower adoption rates in excluded regions.
Strengthening the international system
The world is currently facing significant challenges, including geopolitical tensions and criticism of existing international institutions. Designing global governance for AI presents an opportunity to strengthen multilateralism. It offers a chance to demonstrate the effectiveness of international cooperation in addressing global challenges, enhancing trust among nations, and reinforcing the international system’s legitimacy.
Seizing the opportunity for inclusive global governance
As we stand at this critical juncture in shaping the future of AI, it is imperative that we consciously design global governance structures that promote shared prosperity and responsible technological development. This responsibility extends to all nations, regardless of their size or technological advancement. Much like the urgency of addressing the climate crisis, there is no more pressing agenda than shaping the future of AI in a responsible and inclusive manner.
The way forward: Engaging all stakeholders
To ensure that AI governance is truly global, it is crucial to engage a diverse set of countries and stakeholders. This includes not only the world’s technological powerhouses but also nations with varying levels of technological development. Here are some steps that can be taken to foster inclusivity in AI governance:
### 1. Establish Inclusive International Forums
Create international forums or platforms where countries of all sizes and technological capacities can participate in AI governance discussions. These forums should provide equal opportunities for nations to voice their concerns and priorities.
Promote knowledge sharing
Encourage knowledge sharing and capacity-building programs to bridge the technological gap between countries. By empowering nations with the necessary expertise, we can ensure that AI governance is informed by a wider range of perspectives.
Prioritize ethical considerations
Emphasize the importance of ethics and responsible AI development in global governance discussions. This includes addressing issues related to bias, discrimination, and the ethical use of AI technologies.
Reaffirm the value of multilateralism and international cooperation in addressing global challenges. AI governance should serve as a model for how nations can work together to tackle complex issues.
The need for global governance in the age of AI is undeniable. To reap the benefits of AI while mitigating its risks, we must ensure that the rules and norms governing this technology are shaped through inclusive, collaborative, and equitable processes. By engaging a diverse set of countries and stakeholders, we can collectively shape a future where AI contributes to shared prosperity and the betterment of humanity as a whole. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.