Harnessing AI’s promise: The UN resolution and China’s crucial role

The headquarters of the United Nations in New York, U.S. /CFP

The headquarters of the United Nations in New York, U.S. /CFP

Editor’s note: Andy Mok, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is a senior research fellow at the Center for China and Globalization. The article reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The recent UN General Assembly adoption of a landmark resolution for the promotion of “safe, secure, and trustworthy” artificial intelligence (AI) systems marks a pivotal moment in the global discourse on technology.

The UN Resolution presents a global mandate for the responsible use of artificial intelligence (AI), emphasizing human rights, sustainable development, and ethical deployment. Highlighting AI’s transformative power, the resolution acknowledges its potential to propel the world towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, it also addresses the technology’s capacity to exacerbate disparities, underscoring the need for a balanced approach. This duality frames the resolution’s call for a unified international effort to harness AI’s benefits while mitigating its risks.

In the evolving landscape of artificial intelligence, the establishment of global technical standards emerges as a lynchpin for maximizing the technology’s benefits while minimizing its risks. These standards, encompassing safety, interoperability and ethical compliance, are not merely guidelines but the bedrock upon which the future of AI must be built. They ensure that AI technologies can seamlessly interact across borders and industries, fostering innovation and accessibility. Moreover, ethical standards safeguard against biases and violations of privacy, ensuring AI advancements contribute positively to society. This framework of standards is vital for creating AI systems that are not only technologically advanced but also socially responsible and universally beneficial.

Parallel to the technical scaffolding is the pressing need for a governance model that mirrors the multiplicity of the global stage. Such a model must transcend unilateral approaches to embrace a multipolar perspective, recognizing the rich diversity of cultural contexts and developmental stages across nations. This inclusivity is crucial for ensuring that AI development is not a privilege of the few but a shared global endeavor. By integrating diverse viewpoints and respecting the unique contributions of different civilizations, we can forge a path toward AI development that benefits all of humanity.

This approach champions not just the technological breakthroughs but also the shared human aspiration for peaceful development that underpin sustainable progress. Thus, crafting the future of AI demands a commitment to both rigorous technical standards and a governance model that celebrates the global diversity of perspectives, ensuring the equitable advancement of this transformative technology.

A human-like intelligent service robot performs for the audience at the 2023 World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, east China, July 6, 2023./CFP

A human-like intelligent service robot performs for the audience at the 2023 World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, east China, July 6, 2023./CFP

China’s burgeoning advances in artificial intelligence (AI), especially within industrial sectors, highlight its pivotal role in shaping the course for AI’s future. As a leader in the realm of AI developments such as image recognition and integration with industrial automation, China is uniquely positioned to lead in the establishment of global technical standards. These standards are crucial for ensuring that AI technologies are safe, interoperable, and ethically aligned.

China’s extensive research and development capabilities, coupled with its rapid commercialization of AI, empower it to drive sustainable and equitable technological progress on a global scale. By leveraging its technological prowess, China can help ensure that AI advancements benefit humanity at large, promoting an approach to AI development that is both responsible and progressive.

Furthermore, China’s significant presence in international arenas, such as the United Nations and other multilateral organizations, presents a unique opportunity to advocate for diversity and equity in global AI governance. By drawing on its influence, China can champion inclusivity, ensuring that AI governance frameworks reflect a broad spectrum of developmental models and cultural perspectives.

This role is critical in ensuring that the global discourse on AI does not become dominated by a single narrative but instead embraces the diverse insights and needs of the international community. Through its commitment to promoting diverse viewpoints and equitable development, China can play a central role in shaping a future where AI serves as a catalyst for positive change, benefiting all of humanity.

The call to action underscores the collective responsibility of the global community, with China playing a crucial role in guiding AI’s impact on society. Through its technological advances, whole-process democratic form of government and global prominence, China has the capacity to influence the direction of AI development, ensuring it aligns with the ideals of human advancement and equality.

As we stand at the threshold of this new era, the collaboration between nations, guided by the principles outlined in the UN resolution, will be instrumental in realizing the full potential of AI. Together, we can forge a future where technology not only transcends the boundaries of possibility but also reinforces the bonds of our shared humanity, making a lasting contribution to the well-being of all.

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