Ride the Lightning

Cybersecurity and Future of Law Practice Blog
by Sharon D. Nelson Esq., President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

193 Countries Adopt First Global Agreement on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

November 30, 2021

Homeland Security Today reported on November 29 that all the member states of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have adopted a historic agreement that defines the common values and principles needed to ensure the healthy development of artificial intelligence (AI).

AI is everywhere, much more than most people realize. It drives cars, books flights and hotels, screens for cancer, and helps us quickly analyze new variants of COVID. People use AI to make decisions – and so do governments and corporations.

UNESCO warns that AI ‘is bringing unprecedented challenges’ including dangers of mass surveillance, and increased use of unreliable technologies in law enforcement, and more. Previously, there were no universal standards governing these issues. The adopted text is intended to guide the construction of the necessary legal infrastructure to ensure the ethical development of this technology.

“The world needs rules for artificial intelligence to benefit humanity. The recommendation on the ethics of AI is a major answer. It sets the first global normative framework while giving states the responsibility to apply it at their level. UNESCO will support its 193 member states in its implementation and ask them to report regularly on their progress and practices”, said UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay.

UNESCO says the text adopted provides a guide to ensure that digital transformations promote human rights and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, addressing issues around transparency, accountability and privacy, with action-oriented policy chapters on data governance, education, culture, labor, healthcare and the economy.

One major focus is protecting data, guaranteeing individuals more protection by ensuring transparency, agency and control over their personal data. The recommendation also explicitly bans the use of AI systems for social scoring and mass surveillance.

The text stresses that AI actors should promote data, energy and resource-efficient methods that will help ensure that AI becomes a more prominent tool working against climate change and in dealing with environmental issues.

“Decisions impacting millions of people should be fair, transparent and contestable. These new technologies must help us address the major challenges in our world today, such as increased inequalities and the environmental crisis, and not deepening them.” said Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Social and Human Sciences.

Still just words until we see them implemented and I would be very surprised if these 193 nations didn’t implement them differently and in varying degrees. But a good first step – let’s hope the UNESCO countries honor those words.

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., President, Sensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225, Fairfax, VA 22030
Email: Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology