The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has launched a global online consultation on the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI), which will be used by the organisation's international group of AI experts to help draft a framework governing how the technology is applied globally. The multidisciplinary unit of 24 AI specialists, known as the Ad Hoc Expert Group (AHEG), was formed in March 2020, and has been tasked with producing a draft Unesco recommendation that takes into account the wide-ranging impacts of AI, including on the environment, labour markets and culture. The first draft text of its recommendation was published on 15 May 2020, which Unesco is now inviting the public to comment on until 31 July 2020. It outlined 11 principles for the "research, design, development, deployment and use of AI systems", including fairness, responsibility and accountability, human oversight and determination, sustainability, mutli-stakeholder and adaptive governance, and privacy, among others. The text also outlined six values that would provide the foundation for these principles, which are human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms, leaving no one behind, living in harmony, trustworthiness, and protection of the environment. "It is crucial that as many people as possible take part in this consultation, so that voices from around the world can be heard during the drafting process for the first global normative instrument on the ethics of AI," said Audrey Azoulay, director-general of Unesco.
UNESCOs Member States have announced there has been'major progress' in the development of a global normative instrument for the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI). In November 2019, the United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres congratulated the organisation for taking up this challenge, declaring that AI is a critical frontier issue for the whole UN system and the whole world. In March this year, UNESCO asked 24 experts with multidisciplinary experience in the ethics of artificial intelligence to develop a draft recommendation on the ethics of AI. UNESCO then launched a wide process of consultations to obtain the many points of view of stakeholders. This involved experts from 155 countries, members of the public (through a global online survey), United Nations agencies, major stakeholders from the sector such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, and the world of academe with the University of Stanford and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
During July and August, UNESCO convened a global public online consultation, along with eleven regional and sub-regional virtual consultations, to discuss the first draft text of the Recommendation. It sought feedback that addressed various local concerns to achieve a truly inclusive and pluralist normative instrument. The consultations strengthened regional partnerships, particularly in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, and provided a platform to raise further social, economic, and cultural implications of AI globally: from a data breach to hate speech and harassment; from gender bias to AI accountability; from human rights to education and climate change. Addressing over 600 submissions and 50,000 suggestions – from policymakers, international organizations, civil society, media, private sector, academia, and the general public – twenty-four internationally renowned experts will re-examine ethical concerns in the emerging age of AI and draft appropriate revisions. All voices will be heard.
UNESCO has embarked on a two-year process to elaborate the first global standard-setting instrument on the ethics of artificial intelligence in the form of a Recommendation, following the decision of UNESCO's General Conference at its 40th session in November 2019. In 2020, the focus will be on preparing the draft text for the Recommendation with the assistance of an Ad Hoc Expert Group. This phase will include inclusive and multidisciplinary consultations with a wide range of stakeholders. These broad consultations are extremely important to ensure that the draft text is as inclusive as possible. Towards the end of 2020 and in 2021, the focus will be on an intergovernmental process and on negotiation on the draft text to produce a final version of the Recommendation for possible adoption by UNESCO's General Conference at its 41st session at the end of 2021.
UNESCO has embarked on a two-year process to elaborate the first global standard-setting instrument on ethics of artificial intelligence, following the decision of UNESCO's General Conference at its 40th session in November 2019. This inclusive and multidisciplinary process will include consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, including the scientific community, people of different cultural backgrounds and ethical perspectives, minority groups, civil society, government and the private sector.