UN conference looks at possibilities, dangers of AI

Top United Nations officials and global tech leaders discussed the potential of artificial intelligence Thursday but warned about risks of the technology as the U.N. telecommunications agency's AI for Good conference began.
UN conference:- Top United Nations officials and global tech leaders discussed the potential of artificial intelligence Thursday but warned about risks of the technology as the U.N. telecommunications agency's AI for Good conference began. [VOA]
UN conference:- Top United Nations officials and global tech leaders discussed the potential of artificial intelligence Thursday but warned about risks of the technology as the U.N. telecommunications agency's AI for Good conference began. [VOA]

UN conference:- Top United Nations officials and global tech leaders discussed the potential of artificial intelligence Thursday but warned about risks of the technology as the U.N. telecommunications agency's AI for Good conference began.

The two-day conference AI for Good has been held yearly in Geneva since 2017.

"Artificial intelligence is changing our world and our lives," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said via video, adding that the technology is promising in fields such as education, health care and meteorology.

Generative AI technologies like OpenAI's ChatGPT have grown dramatically in popularity since 2022.

Yet experts have repeatedly warned that AI-powered innovations could spread disinformation. The technology can develop computer-generated texts and images, allowing the spread of false or misleading information online.

"We are in a race against time," said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, head of the U.N.'s International Telecommunications Union.

She said current generations can guide AI to benefit people worldwide but that the technology is not accessible to everyone.

"In 2024, in the age of AI, in the age of unimaginable opportunities, one-third of humanity remains completely offline, excluded from the AI revolution without a voice," Bogdan-Martin said in her opening remarks. "What we in this room take for granted remains completely foreign to 2.6 billion people around the world."

Other experts highlighted the importance of ensuring AI is advancing safety.

Technology ethicist Tristan Harris, a co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, said AI companies are incentivized to achieve market dominance, heightening the risk that AI developments produce negative consequences.

"Governance that moves at the speed of technology" is vital, Harris said.

Bogdan-Martin praised governments that implemented protections and regulations around AI use.

"It's our responsibility to write the next chapter in the great story of humanity, and technology, and to make it safe, to make it inclusive and to make it sustainable," she said. VOA/SP

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