UNESCO addresses first European AI Alliance Conference

“The promise of ‘AI for all’ must be that everyone can take advantage of the technological revolution under way and access its fruits, notably in terms of innovation and knowledge,” said Mr Moez Chakchouk, UNESCO’s Assistant-Director General for Communication and Information, at the first meeting of the European Alliance for Artificial intelligence. “To leave no one behind in this technological revolution, we must ensure not only a multi-stakeholder approach, but also a truly global and international one.”

Organized in Brussels on 26 June 2019 to mark the first anniversary of the creation of the European AI Alliance platform, the event brought together a variety of stakeholders, including citizens and policymakers. The event discussed the latest achievements in AI policy, the European Union’s take and the EU’s future strategy on Artificial Intelligence, including its impact on the economy and society.

Ms Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, opened the event highlighting the commitment of the European Union to support the development of AI and commending its recent achievements, notably the adoption in April of the first EU ethical guidelines for trustworthy AI.  She also stressed the need to address challenges arising with AI through an ethical AI framework that goes beyond EU borders.

In that respect, one of the event’s panels focused on the international governance of AI, in which UNESCO, the EU and OECD discussed how to ensure that the designing of the future of AI governance does not rest in the hands of the few or the privileged.

Mr Chakchouk explained how UNESCO is working closely within the UN family and with regional organizations to promote an ethical, human right- based and human-centric approach to AI.

“As part of the UN family, and with our specific focus on education, the sciences, culture, and communication and information, UNESCO understands the social impacts and ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence as a priority”, he highlighted.

While new technologies evolve, there is currently no single instrument to address the ethics of AI at the international level.

As a first step, UNESCO hopes to mobilize all stakeholders to develop the future of ethical AI governance in the field of UNESCO’s mandate at the international level. UNESCO’s work to elaborate an international standard-setting instrument in the field of Artificial Intelligence will prioritize global discussion and civic debate with all relevant stakeholders.

In the framework of this conference, Mr Chakchouk met with Mr Roberto Viola, Director-General of DG CONNECT, to discuss ongoing and future partnerships in various areas, notably the digital preservation of cultural heritage, Artificial Intelligence and Media and Information Literacy.