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UN approves first global artificial intelligence resolution

The United Nations building is shown in New York City, U.S., February 23, 2023

March 21 (mod1s) - The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the first global resolution on artificial intelligence that urges governments to respect human rights, secure personal data, and monitor AI for threats. 

The nonbinding resolution, introduced by the United States and co-sponsored by China and over 120 other countries, also promotes the improvement of privacy rules. 

"Today, all 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly have spoken in one voice, and together, chosen to govern artificial intelligence rather than let it govern us," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated.

The resolution is the latest in a series of measures - few of which carry teeth - by governments across the globe to regulate AI's growth, amid worries it may be used to disrupt democratic processes, turbocharge fraud or lead to massive job losses, among other evils. 

"The improper or malicious design, development, deployment and use of artificial intelligence systems ... pose risks that could ... undercut the protection, promotion and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms," the bill adds. In November, the U.S., Britain and more than a dozen other nations released the first thorough international accord on how to keep artificial intelligence safe from rogue actors, urging for corporations to build AI systems that are "secure by design."

Europe is ahead of the United States, with EU legislators reaching a temporary accord last month to control the technology. The Biden administration has been lobbying legislators for AI regulation, but a split U.S. Congress has made little advance. 

In the interim, the White House tried to lessen AI risks to consumers, workers, and minorities while enhancing national security with a new executive order in October.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said it took almost four months to draft the resolution, but that it offered the world "a baseline set of principles to guide next steps in AI’s development and use."
Asked on Wednesday if negotiators met pushback from Russia or China, senior administration officials said there were "lots of heated conversations," but the administration aggressively engaged with nations with whom it has different views. 

Like governments throughout the globe, Chinese and Russian authorities are actively investigating the use of AI capabilities for a number of goals. Last month, Microsoft revealed it had discovered hackers from both nations using Microsoft-backed OpenAI software to sharpen their espionage abilities. 

In reaction to the Microsoft report, China has stated it rejects what it termed groundless claims while Russia did not reply to a request for comment.


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