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Eight tech firms vow to build ‘more ethical’ AI with UN

Eight global technological firms including Lenovo Group and Microsoft pledged on Monday to build more ethical artificial intelligence (AI) in line with the United Nations (UN) framework.


GSMA, INNIT, Lenovo Group, LG AI Research, Mastercard, Microsoft, Salesforce and Telefonica signed an agreement at the second global forum of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on AI ethics in the Slovenian city of Kranj.

UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay described the move as “another major step” by obtaining “concrete commitment” from global tech companies. In November 2021, UNESCO forged a consensus amongst all its member states to adopt the first global ethical framework for the use of AI, she said.

Azoulay called on all tech firms to follow the example of these eight companies and encouraged the alliance of the public and private sectors in building AI for the common good.

The agreement compels companies to fully play their roles in guaranteeing human rights in the design, development, purchase, sale and use of AI.

It also demands due diligence to meet safety standards and identify the adverse effects of AI, alongside timely measures to prevent, mitigate or remedy such effects in line with domestic legislation.

UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence was the world’s first, and remains its only normative framework on AI. In the past two years, more than 50 countries have engaged in its implementation and multilateral cooperation in this regard.

Since the adoption of the recommendation, UNESCO has also advanced collaboration with the private sector, leading to the establishment of a Business Council for Ethics of AI, co-chaired by Microsoft and Telefonica. The council is committed to strengthening technical capacities in ethics and AI, designing and implementing the ethical impact assessment tool mandated by the recommendation, and contributing to the development of regional regulations.

The two-day UNESCO forum, themed “Changing the Landscape of AI Governance,” gathered more than 600 representatives from governments, international organizations, academic and research institutions, NGOs and businesses from 67 countries.

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