Generative AI, the latest form of artificial intelligence, has ignited high-level discussions among world leaders, prompting the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, to join the growing chorus of voices advocating for the regulation of this technology. Guterres expressed deep concern over the potential dangers posed by generative AI, comparing it to the existential threat of nuclear war.
UN Secretary-General proposes the regulation of AI technology
In a press conference held on Monday, Guterres highlighted the alarming warnings from scientists and experts about the risks associated with AI. He emphasized the need for swift action and urged the international community to take these warnings seriously. To address this issue, Guterres announced his intention to establish an AI advisory board comprising experts and scientists from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Coinciding with Guterres’ statements, the United Nations released a report titled “Information Integrity on Digital Platforms,” which underscored the importance of responsible AI usage and highlighted concerns about the use of deep fakes in conflict zones. Additionally, the European Parliament passed what it heralds as the world’s first-ever AI legislation, signaling a proactive approach to governing this rapidly advancing technology.
While the UN Secretary-General acknowledged the criticality of artificial intelligence, he cautioned against overlooking the damage already being caused by digital technology. He drew attention to the proliferation of hate speech and misinformation online, stressing that these issues are presently fueling conflicts, undermining democracy, and posing threats to public health and climate action.
European Parliament passes landmark AI legislation
Inspired by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN Secretary-General expressed support for the establishment of an artificial intelligence agency. The IAEA, renowned for its regulatory functions and solid knowledge-based approach, serves as a model for addressing the challenges associated with AI. Such an agency, Guterres argued, would provide a robust framework for oversight, licensing, and compliance with safety standards. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman echoed this sentiment during his testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, advocating for the creation of a government office responsible for setting AI standards and conducting independent audits.
Despite these urgent calls for action, the UN Secretary-General acknowledged the limited investment of the United Nations in public administration, underscoring the need for member states’ initiatives and cooperation. He emphasized the challenging task of competing with private platforms that have amassed significant knowledge and resources.
In March, OpenAI launched GPT-4, their latest generative AI model, which prompted the Future of Life Institute to initiate an online petition calling for a six-month pause on AI systems training. Prominent figures from the tech industry, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, endorsed this petition, further amplifying the need for regulatory measures.