Video messsage

30 May 2024 09:15h - 09:20h

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Full session report

UN Secretary-General Advocates for Ethical AI Governance at AI for Good Summit

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres delivered an impassioned address at the AI for Good Summit, where he discussed the profound impact artificial intelligence (AI) can have on sustainable development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He identified AI’s potential to revolutionise a multitude of sectors, including education, health care, agriculture, housing, transportation, and disaster management, by enhancing efficiency and outreach.

However, Guterres was clear about the challenges that must be overcome to ensure AI’s positive influence on society. He called for the development of AI systems that actively work to reduce biases, misinformation, and security threats, rather than exacerbate these issues. The Secretary-General stressed the importance of creating AI that is safe, inclusive, and accessible to all, particularly underscoring the need for global coordination in AI governance.

In his speech, Guterres highlighted the special role of developing countries in the AI revolution, advocating for initiatives that would help these nations harness AI’s power. This includes improving connectivity, computing power, and establishing robust frameworks for data and governance. He also called for incentives that would ensure AI developers and deployers share the benefits of AI at a local level, promoting equitable distribution of AI’s advantages.

The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to the International Telecommunications Union for its expertise in AI standards and for convening the summit. He referenced the work of his advisory body on AI, which has engaged with numerous organisations present at the summit. This body has proposed several strategies for enhancing AI governance, which Guterres outlined during his address.

These strategies include the creation of an international scientific panel on AI to perform independent assessments of the risks and opportunities associated with AI. Guterres also advocated for a structured dialogue to connect governance initiatives and harmonise standards across borders and sectors. He emphasised the need for substantial investment in capacity building, with funding that matches the scale of the AI challenge.

Looking to the future, Guterres mentioned the upcoming September Summit of the Future, which aims to agree on a global digital compact. This compact is expected to establish the foundations for global AI governance, setting the stage for ethical development and deployment of AI technologies.

In conclusion, Secretary-General Guterres called upon the participants of the summit to work together to build momentum around these ambitious governance solutions. He underscored the shared responsibility to harness AI in a way that is responsible and equitable, ensuring that AI’s benefits aid in the achievement of the SDGs and that no one is left behind. His speech served as a rallying cry for the international community to unite in the pursuit of an AI-enhanced future that upholds the principles of sustainability, inclusivity, and global cooperation.

Session transcript

António Guterres:
I’m happy to greet the AI for Good Summit. Artificial intelligence is changing our world and our lives. It will charge sustainable development. From bringing education and health care to remote areas, to helping farmers boost their crops. From designing sustainable housing and transportation, to providing early warning for natural disasters. AI could be a game changer for the SDGs. But transforming its potential into reality requires AI that reduces bias, misinformation and security threats instead of aggravating them. It also requires helping developing countries harness AI for themselves, connecting the unconnected, building capacity on computing power, data and governance. And creating incentives for AI developers and deployers to share the benefits locally. We need global coordination to build safe and inclusive AI that is accessible to all. I wish to recognize the International Telecommunications Union’s early expertise on AI standards and thank you for convening this important meeting on AI for development. My advisory body on artificial intelligence, who has met with many of your organizations, has identified key avenues to enhance AI governance. It recommends an international scientific panel on AI that would conduct independent risk and opportunity assessments, a structured dialogue connecting governance initiatives and harmonizing standards across borders and sectors, and a big effort on capacity building with funding to meet the scale of the challenge. September Summit of the Future will see agreement on a global digital compact, an opportunity to lay the foundations of global AI governance. I count on you to help build momentum around these ambitious solutions. Together we can harness AI to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind. Thank you.


António Guterres

Speech speed

141 words per minute

Speech length

301 words

Speech time

128 secs