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UNESCO member states sign document for the healthy development of AI

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Earlier this week, the 193 member states of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) signed a document that defines the values and principles needed to ensure the healthy development of artificial intelligence (AI), according to UN News. While the technology is already supporting governments and the private sector in useful ways, member states of UNESCO want to ensure that it’s not used for bad purposes.

UNESCO warned that the technology has already caused some harm through gender and ethnic bias, an increase in mass surveillance, and the use of “unreliable AI technologies” by law enforcement. It said that until now, there was no set of universal standards to guide people on how AI should be deployed for the benefit of people but this text hopes to change that.

Commenting on the document, UNESCO chief, Audrey Azoulay, said:

“The world needs rules for artificial intelligence to benefit humanity. The Recommendation on the ethics of AI is a major answer. It sets the first global normative framework while giving States the responsibility to apply it at their level. UNESCO will support its 193 Member States in its implementation and ask them to report regularly on their progress and practices.”

Over the last few years, China has been heavily criticised by the press for its deployment of the social credit system. While some reports have downplayed the system, this newly signed document explicitly says there should be a ban on the use of AI systems for social scoring and mass surveillance. China is a signatory to this document but whether it actually follows the recommendations is a whole other story.

If you’d like to read the full 24-page document, you can head over to UNESCO Digital Library to read or download the PDF. It’s available in all six UN languages; English, French, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic.

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