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Here's why the world must collaborate on tech governance

Without a global, open dialogue guided by human rights principles, there can be no effective technology governance

Without a global, open dialogue guided by human rights principles, there can be no effective technology governance Image: Tara Winstead for Pexels

Kay Firth-Butterfield
Senior Research Fellow, University of Texas at Austin
Lucia Velasco
Lead, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, World Economic Forum
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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  • This year's Davos meeting will facilitate dialogue on the ecological and digital transitions facing humanity.
  • With good governance, technological advances could help restore hope for the future.
  • The Global Alliance on Artificial Intelligence aims to ensure that the digital transition is people-centred.

The economic and environmental crises facing the world are exacerbated by rising global economic fragmentation. At this year's meeting in Davos, we gather for dialogue and cooperation, with a view to managing the two huge transitions facing humanity: the ecological and the digital. When deciding how best to manage the Fourth Industrial Revolution we can learn from the mistakes made with global environmental governance. In turn, artificial intelligence can help us to respond to the ecological crisis.

Neither the ecological nor the digital transition can be made without agreements between countries and other stakeholders. No one country or business can manage them independently. A space for open-ended dialogue is necessary, as the various summits and agreements on the environment have shown. We need to put the issues that enable and hinder agreements on the table to design a shared agenda. This is difficult to do, in the context of trade withdrawal, but we must try.

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Technological advances can help to restore hope for the future. This year's global risk report showed growing pessimism about the state of the world. Avoiding digital inequality and achieving responsible technological development, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence, must be on the agenda of all governments and business leaders. This needs to be tackled collectively; the international community must be able to create safe spaces for global interaction. Even if we cannot currently reach a global agreement on responsible technology, we must work to lay the groundwork for future collaboration.

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Without a global, open dialogue guided by human rights principles, there can be no effective technology governance. To this end, we have created the Global Alliance on Artificial Intelligence, so that companies, governments, and civil society organizations can work together to accelerate people-centered technology adoption.

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How is the World Economic Forum ensuring the responsible use of technology?

We will be able to benefit from artificial intelligence if we establish the mechanisms of cooperation and shared learning necessary to move forward collectively. It is time to understand the ethical, legal and political ramifications of technology; to ensure that human rights are respected in the field of artificial intelligence and that humans retain their central role in shaping the world.

Even as geopolitical tensions impact traditional economic cooperation, we must continue creating new spaces related to the next wave of technology. It is a matter of shared prosperity. Now is the time to assist leaders in anticipating, understanding, and shaping the trajectory of technological change to deliver outcomes that serve society.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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Institutional update

World Economic Forum

May 21, 2024

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