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AI Needs UN Oversight

The United Nations must urgently establish an International Data-Based Systems Agency to promote safe, secure, and peaceful uses of artificial intelligence and to ensure that these systems respect human rights. Such an institution would also have regulatory authority to help determine market approval for AI products.

ZURICH – Many scientists and tech leaders have sounded the alarm about artificial intelligence in recent years, issuing dire warnings not heard since the advent of the nuclear age. Elon Musk, for example, has said that “AI is far more dangerous than nukes,” prompting him to ask an important question: “[W]hy do we have no regulatory oversight? This is insane.”

The late Stephen Hawking made a similar point: “Unless we learn how to prepare for, and avoid, the potential risks, AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization. It brings dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many.”

Given the potentially catastrophic consequences of unchecked AI, there is a clear need for international guardrails to ensure that this emerging technology – more accurately called data-based systems – serves the common good. Specifically, that means guaranteeing that human rights are upheld globally, including online.