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UNESCO member states adopt the first global agreement on artificial intelligence ethics



UNESCO has adopted the world’s first international ethics guidelines for artificial intelligence, which prohibit the use of the technology for “social scoring” and mass surveillance.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) director-general, Audrey Azoulay, presented the world’s first global standard on artificial intelligence (AI) on Thursday.

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At the UNESCO General Conference on Tuesday, the members of UNESCO adopted the agreement.

“AI has the potential to benefit societies and economies in many ways, but it also presents risks and challenges,” UNESCO said in a press release. 

Instead of defining a binding agreement, the organisation said that guidelines serve as a global set of “recommendations.”

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The 28-page document, formally titled “Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence,” sets out common values and principles for establishing the legal infrastructure necessary to ensure AI’s healthy development.

“The world needs rules for artificial intelligence to benefit humanity. The recommendation on the ethics of AI is a major answer,” Azoulay told the press conference in Paris.

According to UNESCO, the agreement “will not only protect but also promote human rights and human dignity, and will be an ethical guiding compass and a global normative bedrock allowing to build strong respect for the rule of law in the digital world’.

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There are three main parts of the recommendation: values, principles, and strategic areas.

Data protection, banning social scoring and mass surveillance, monitoring and evaluating, and protecting the environment are some of the main components of the recommendation.

There is a call for greater transparency over the control of personal data, as well as for greater limits and awareness of AI’s ability to mimic human traits and behaviour.

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Qingdao in China will host the 2021 International Forum on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Education as a hybrid event (online and in-person) on Dec. 7 and 8.

Participants will evaluate how to strengthen AI governance and innovation networks so that AI is directed towards the common good in education, and for humanity as a whole.

(With inputs from agencies)

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