24 September 2020

Powerful Technologies Must Be Guided by Human Values, Solidarity, Intelligence, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Event on Advancing Global Goals with AI

Following is UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed’s video message on the occasion of the event on “Advancing the Global Goals with Artificial Intelligence”, held today:

Dear Excellencies, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to join this conversation on “Advancing the Global Goals with AI”.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed nearly 1 million people, pushed tens of millions into poverty and hunger, and exacerbated inequalities along many dimensions.  It has demonstrated the promise and power of technology to alleviate these grave impacts.  It has highlighted disquieting issues of lack of access and invasion of privacy.  And it has demonstrated how vital it is for countries and societies to advance their technology capabilities, and related policy capacities, if they are not to be left behind.

These are important considerations for us to keep in mind in relation to artificial intelligence, as well.  On the one hand, artificial intelligence can enable faster progress on many of the Sustainable Development Goals through innovative solutions, more efficient resource use and better decision-making through big-data analytics.  On the other, it can perpetuate bias and inequalities; or even be used intentionally to violate human rights and develop applications that harm individuals and societies.

Like many powerful technologies, artificial intelligence must be guided by human values, human solidarity and human intelligence.  We need to harness the full power of game-changing technologies like artificial intelligence if we are to overcome the climate crisis and make a decisive break towards a new, more sustainable and equitable, “normal”.

At the same time, we must also counter its malign possibilities.  Multi‑stakeholder engagement, informed dialogue and capacity-building, particularly in poorer countries, will be essential.  This is also why the Secretary-General, in his Road Map for Digital Cooperation, expresses his intention to establish a multi-stakeholder advisory body on global artificial intelligence cooperation, to address issues around inclusion, coordination and capacity-building.

I am encouraged that this meeting is contributing towards that end.  I encourage the organizers of today’s gathering to also explore collaborations with other platforms such as the UN’s Technology Facilitation Mechanism and its annual global Science, Technology and Innovation Forum.

Thank you for your engagement.  I wish you productive discussions and look forward to the outcomes.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.