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United Nations creates advisory body to address AI governance

Illustration shows AI (Artificial Intelligence) letters and computer motherboard

AI (Artificial Intelligence) letters are placed on computer motherboard in this illustration taken, June 23, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration//File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

STOCKHOLM, Oct 26 (Reuters) – The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday announced the creation of a 39-member advisory body to address issues in the international governance of artificial intelligence.

Members include tech company executives, government officials from Spain to Saudi Arabia, and academics from countries such as the U.S., Russia and Japan.

Sony (6758.T) Chief Technology Officer Hiroaki Kitano, OpenAI CTO Mira Murati and Microsoft (MSFT.O) Chief Responsible AI Officer Natasha Crampton are among the executives representing technology companies.

Representatives also come from six continents with diverse backgrounds ranging from U.S.-based AI expert Vilas Dhar to Professor Yi Zeng fom China and Egyptian lawyer Mohamed Farahat.

“The transformative potential of AI for good is difficult even to grasp,” Guterres said in a statement.

“And without entering into a host of doomsday scenarios, it is already clear that the malicious use of AI could undermine trust in institutions, weaken social cohesion and threaten democracy itself,” he said.

Since OpenAI launched ChatGPT last year, interest in the new technology has spread across the world, leading AI researchers to raise concerns about “risks to society.”

While many governments are working to formulate laws to regulate the spread of AI, researchers and lawmakers have called for global collaboration.

The UN body will issue preliminary recommendations by the end of this year and final recommendations by the summer of 2024.

The immediate tasks include building a global scientific consensus on risks and challenges, and strengthening international cooperation on AI governance, the UN said.

The first meeting of the body will take place on Oct. 27.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; Editing by Sharon Singleton

Supantha leads the European Technology and Telecoms coverage, with a special focus on emerging technologies such as AI and 5G. He has been a journalist for about 18 years. He joined Reuters in 2006 and has covered a variety of beats ranging from financial sector to technology. He is based in Stockholm, Sweden. 

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