Act now as digital technologies affect us now, says UN Secretary-General

UN Secretary-General calls on the international community to act now but together on digital technologies.

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UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, urges all actors, in particular governments, creators and platforms operators, to recognise, plan and act now for all impacts of all technologies, in particular digital platforms and generative AI. In a policy brief on Monday, he highlighted key concerns as described by experts in the fields of digital platforms and AI and urged the international community to act now by way of the proposed Global Digital Compact, New Agenda for Peace, a human rights-based multilateral solution.

Notwithstanding the enormous gains we now reap from using digital tools, the UN representative emphasised the existing harms associated with them, specifically as it relates to digital platforms. These include their use ‘to subvert science, spread disinformation, misinformation and hate speech, fuel conflict, threaten democracy and human rights and undermine public health and climate action.’ To this end, he called for coordinated action around the uptake of the proposed Code of Conduct, a document outlining potential guardrails and safeguards for the freedom of expression and information.

As a separate but related solution, Guterres outlined the need for an international watchdog for AI of the likes of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), given the recent buss around generative AI technologies such as ChatGPT. Gaining the support of the creator of OpenAI and the Prime Minister of Britain, the Secretary-General informed of plans to organise a high-level AI scientific advisory board at the end of the year, tasked with providing insight into aligning AI with human rights, the rule of law and the common good.