UN Adopts Historic AI Resolution: Safeguarding Human Rights and Privacy

March 21 (Reuters) – The United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed a historic resolution on Thursday, marking the first global effort to regulate artificial intelligence. The resolution calls upon nations to uphold human rights, safeguard personal data, and actively monitor AI for potential risks.

Championed by the United States and supported by China along with over 120 other countries, the nonbinding resolution also emphasizes the need to fortify privacy policies. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, hailed the unity of all 193 member states in choosing to govern AI rather than allowing it to dictate societal norms.

This resolution represents a significant stride in governmental efforts worldwide to influence the trajectory of AI development. Concerns over its potential to disrupt democratic processes, facilitate fraud, and trigger substantial job displacement have prompted nations to take action.

Addressing the dangers posed by improper AI design and usage, the resolution underscores the importance of safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms. Last November, the U.S., Britain, and several other countries introduced a comprehensive international agreement to ensure the safe deployment of AI systems.

While Europe has taken steps ahead of the United States by adopting provisional measures to oversee AI technology, the Biden administration has faced challenges in enacting AI regulations due to congressional polarization. Nonetheless, efforts to mitigate AI risks to consumers, workers, and minority groups while strengthening national security were bolstered by a new executive order issued by the White House in October.

According to U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, negotiations for the resolution spanned nearly four months, culminating in a framework of principles to guide the future development and utilization of AI. Despite encountering resistance during negotiations, particularly from countries like Russia and China, the administration engaged in constructive dialogue with divergent viewpoints.

Like their global counterparts, officials from China and Russia are actively exploring AI applications for various purposes. Recent reports from Microsoft revealed instances of hackers from both countries leveraging AI technology for espionage activities. While China denounced the allegations as baseless, Russia remained silent on the matter.

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