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UN Security Council Urges Global AI Governance Amidst Censorship & Security Concerns

Updated: Jan 8

China warns against the unchecked growth of AI technology, while the United States emphasises the need to prevent human rights abuses. The UK Foreign Secretary highlights the transformative impact of AI on society.

U.N. Security Council
Credits: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The United Nations Security Council convened its inaugural meeting on artificial intelligence (AI), where China urged caution against the unrestrained advancement of this technology and the United States voiced concerns over its potential misuse for censorship and repression.

Chaired by Britain's Foreign Secretary James Cleverly as part of the country's presidency, the meeting emphasised that AI would profoundly alter every facet of human life. Cleverly stressed the urgency of establishing global governance for transformative technologies, citing AI's disregard for borders. He acknowledged the technology's potential to combat climate change and drive economic growth but cautioned against its exploitation for disinformation and the proliferation of weapons.

During the session, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Jack Clark (co-founder of renowned AI startup Anthropic) and Professor Zeng Yi (co-director of the China-UK Research Center for AI Ethics and Governance) provided insights. Guterres emphasised the severe repercussions AI's military and non-military applications could have on global peace and security.

UN Security Council
Credits: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Guterres supported the proposal by certain nations to establish a new U.N. body that would facilitate collective efforts in governing this remarkable technology. He suggested modelling it after entities such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization, or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. China's U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun referred to AI as a "double-edged sword" and expressed support for the U.N. to play a central coordinating role in establishing guiding principles for AI.

Zhang stated that whether AI brings benefits or harm depends on how humanity regulates and balances scientific development with security. He emphasised the need to prioritise people's well-being and the responsible use of AI to prevent its uncontrolled proliferation.

Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., stressed the importance of international collaboration in addressing human rights risks associated with AI and other emerging technologies. He unequivocally stated that member states should refrain from using AI to censor, suppress, or disenfranchise individuals.

Russia's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy questioned the appropriateness of the Security Council discussing AI, suggesting that specialised platforms focused on professional, scientific and expertise-based discussions were more suitable for addressing the topic.

  • China warns against uncontrolled AI growth, emphasising the need for regulation.

  • The United States urges countries to collaborate to prevent human rights abuses.

  • UK Foreign Secretary highlights AI's transformative potential while also addressing its risks.


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