UN chief supports creation of artificial intelligence agency

The UN chief expressed support on Monday for creating a global artificial agency as he launched a key report on information integrity on digital platforms.

"I would be favorable to the idea that we could have an artificial intelligence agency," Antonio Guterres told a press conference as he raised alarm over the latest form of artificial intelligence – generative AI.

There are concerns and calls for slowing the pace of new developments in artificial intelligence that has rapidly expanded in recent months as companies like OpenAI, Google and Microsoft continue to build systems.

Several notables in the field, including Elon Musk, demanded a pause on rapid developments citing "profound risks to society".

"Digital platforms are being misused to subvert science and spread disinformation and hate to billions of people," Guterres said.

"Alarm bells over the latest form of artificial intelligence – generative AI – are deafening. And they are loudest from the developers who designed it.

"These scientists and experts have called on the world to act, declaring AI an existential threat to humanity on a par with the risk of nuclear war. We must take those warnings seriously."

He urged governments to address "grave global harm" caused by the "proliferation of hate and lies" in the digital space.

Guterres called for global action through a "code of conduct" for information integrity on digital platforms.

He proposed a global digital compact for the global governance of AI, aimed at creating guardrails to help governments come together around guidelines that promote facts, while exposing conspiracies and lies, and safeguarding freedom of expression and information.

The proposals for the code of conduct include a commitment by governments, tech companies and other stakeholders to refrain from using, supporting, or amplifying disinformation and hate speech for any purpose.

They also include a pledge by governments to guarantee a free, viable, independent, and plural media landscape, with strong protections for journalists as well as agreed protocols for a rapid response by governments and digital platforms when the stakes are highest – in times of conflict and high social tensions.

He said that he will appoint a scientific advisory board that includes a number of experts from outside, including two experts on artificial intelligence and the chief scientists of UN agencies in the next few days.

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