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The ethics of artificial intelligence

Another step closer to the adoption of UNESCO's AI recommendation

July 6, 2021  EP&T Magazine

After months of constructive dialogue and negotiation, representatives from UNESCO’s member states have agreed on the draft text of an ambitious and wide-ranging new template for the ethical development and deployment of Artificial Intelligence.

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Momentum for change on ethical AI is gathering in the run-up to UNESCO’s General Conference in November – when the Recommendation will be submitted to UNESCO member states for adoption. The draft Recommendation is a global framework to ensure that digital transformations promote human rights and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It will address issues around transparency, accountability and privacy, contain action-oriented policy chapters on data governance, education, culture, healthcare and the economy, and provide governments and policy makers with a framework for regulating AI.

“Once adopted, leaders everywhere will have a shared reference point on how to control the risks and harness these new technologies as a force for good. AI has the potential to radically reduce inequalities, promote diversity, and benefit humanity as a whole” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

Algorithmic justice

While AI technologies have extraordinary potential for social and economic development, artificial intelligence presents complex and unique challenges to policymakers. AI raises significant concerns over bias, stereotyping, and discrimination. Increasingly, decisions in both the public and private spheres are being taken on the basis of analysis generated by AI. UNESCO has called for AI to be developed in a way that ensures fair outcomes.

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The Recommendation will include provisions to ensure that real-world biases are not replicated online, and offer concrete policy actions anchored in universal values and principles. It also mandates UNESCO to analyze the level of advancement of each country in the field of AI in order to assist them in the implementation phase.

Provide AI with a strong ethical grounding

24 leading experts from across the globe contributed to the text, which ensured the Recommendation’s broad, comprehensive, and diverse scope. It was developed through a global consultation process, which built in a multiplicity of voices from different stakeholder groups around the world.

UNESCO is ready to work with members and partners to ensure that this Recommendation will deliver on its promise to provide AI with a strong ethical grounding, that delivers for people.

“The Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence will be a blueprint for global consensus on the ‘what,’ as well as the ‘how’ of ethical regulation of this game-changing technology. UNESCO stands ready to assist governments and other stakeholders in developing their capacities to address the challenges, including through the ethical impact assessment” said Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences Gabriela Ramos.

 

 


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