Unesco adopts first global text governing artificial intelligence

Unesco has produced a 28-page recommendation, ratified by all Member States, on the use and ethics of artificial intelligence, a technology it considers to be deeply innovative but fraught with risks.

Unesco announced this Thursday, November 25, that it had adopted a first global text on the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI) in order to try to regulate these revolutionary technologies, which pose fundamental risks to societies in despite the many advances they allow.

“AI technologies can be of great service to humanity” and “all countries can benefit from it”, but “they also raise fundamental ethical concerns”, underlines in its preamble the 28-page recommendation, ratified by the 193 Member States of Unesco.

There is “a need to ensure the transparency and intelligibility of the functioning of the algorithms and of the data from which they have been trained”, because they can influence “human rights and fundamental freedoms, equality gender, democracy “, continues this international organization based in Paris.

Emerging technology

Almost absent at the beginning of the millennium, AI has gradually grafted itself into our lives: it decides what news we will read on our phone, what films will be offered to us in streaming, what routes the guidance systems will take us to follow …

But the algorithms that make it work have also been misused in recent years, illustrating its dangers.

Facebook has been at the center of several scandals. The British firm Cambridge Analytica has been accused of having misappropriated the data of the American giant to influence politically the referendum which led to Brexit in the United Kingdom, and the election of Donald Trump in the United States.

More recently, Facebook has been accused of polarizing corporations by overexposing extremist or conspiratorial content.

Work started in 2018

The result of work that started in 2018, the Unesco recommendation highlights values ​​- “Respect, protection and promotion of human rights”, “diversity and inclusion”, promotion of “peaceful societies” and the environment – which the member states undertake to respect.

It also lists the actions that the signatories will have to carry out, in particular the establishment of a legislative tool to frame and monitor AIs, “ensuring total security for personal and sensitive data” or even educating the masses about them.

Russia, China and even Iran, states regularly accused of obstructing human rights, have signed a text which, UNESCO recognizes, is an “incentive device” without the possibility of sanctions. The United States and Israel, very active in new technologies, are not part of Unesco.

Victoria Beurnez with AFP

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