Singapore supports global AI norms | UNGA78
Minister Balakrishnan’s address underscored the urgency of addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by AI and the digital revolution. He called for global cooperation to ensure the responsible and equitable use of these technologies while recognizing their potential to transform societies and global security dynamics.
In his address to the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA78), His Excellency Vivian Balakrishnan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, highlighted two crucial points regarding the implications of AI and the need for international cooperation.
The Impact of AI
In his address, Minister Balakrishnan emphasised the significance of preparing for the profound changes brought about by the digital revolution and the emergence of AI. He particularly stressed the necessity to address both the risks and the equitable distribution of the benefits arising from these technologies.
He noted that generative AI, exemplified by innovations like Chat GPT, has captured widespread attention. However, he pointed out that the world is on the brink of the next stage of AI development: AI agents capable of negotiating and transacting autonomously, blurring the line between human and machine interaction. This development has far-reaching implications for societies, politics, and economies worldwide.
Minister Balakrishnan also raised concerns about the deployment of autonomous weapon systems, highlighting that AI-enabled weapon systems could be deployed rapidly, reducing decision times for leaders. This shift could lead to situations where humans are not directly involved in decision-making, increasing the risk of unintended conflicts or escalation.
He invoked the spectre of nuclear escalation during the Cold War, emphasising that AI’s role in conflict situations has escalated the risk exponentially. Minister Balakrishnan called for an inclusive global dialogue on AI oversight and precautions to avoid miscalculations, emphasising the need to initiate this dialogue at the UN.
Singapore’s support for international norms on AI
Minister Balakrishnan also expressed Singapore’s support for the Secretary-General’s decision to establish a high-level advisory body on AI to address these critical issues. He expressed optimism in the ability of the UN and the multilateral system to establish norms governing these rapidly emerging technologies.
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