UN advisory body created to address global AI governance, and other digital technology stories you need to read

UN headquarters. Caption: The United Nations (UN) has announced plans to establish an advisory body to look at the global governance challenges of artificial intelligence (AI).
The United Nations (UN) has announced plans to establish an advisory body to look at the global governance challenges of artificial intelligence (AI).
Image: Unsplash/Salya T
  • This regular round-up brings you compelling digital technology stories from the past fortnight.
  • Top digital technology news: UN advisory body created to address global AI governance; Amazon trials human-like robots in US warehouses; New TikTok feature lets you save songs from videos.

1. UN advisory body created to address global AI governance

Members will include executives from technology companies like Sony, OpenAI and Microsoft, as well as government officials from different countries and academics from a range of AI-related disciplines.

"The transformative potential of AI for good is difficult even to grasp," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

"And without entering into a host of doomsday scenarios, it is already clear that the malicious use of AI could undermine trust in institutions, weaken social cohesion and threaten democracy itself," he added.

While many countries are formulating regulatory frameworks to govern AI development, the technology is advancing so fast it is outpacing attempts to keep development in check, some experts warn.

To this end, researchers, lawmakers and others have been calling for global collaboration to address the AI risk. The UK hosted the first international AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, 1-2 November 2023, where leaders from 28 countries signed a declaration of intent to work together on ensuring its safe and responsible future use.

The UN advisory body will publish its preliminary recommendations by the end of 2023 and final recommendations by the summer of 2024.

The World Economic Forum held its AI Governance Summit from 13-15 November, where over 200 AI leaders tackled issues around the impact artificial intelligence could have on jobs, security and the economy.

2. Amazon trials human-like robots in US warehouses

Named Digit, the new robot has features loosely resembling a human's. Praying mantis-styled robotic legs - in place of the wheels fitted to Amazon order-fulfilment robots already deployed - enable it to walk and climb steps, while robotic arms can pick up and move packages, simulating sentient movement.

Language and image recognition capabilities of Ai systems have improved rapidly.
Language and image recognition capabilities of Ai systems have improved rapidly.
Image: Our World in Data

The capabilities of AI systems continue to improve rapidly and can outperform humans in tests. For example, just a decade ago, no AI system could achieve human-level language or image recognition.

Amazon said the motivation for the new robots is to free up human employees to better deliver for customers.

The company now has 750,000 robots performing mainly repetitive tasks in its operations - a move it says has helped create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for humans. This includes 700 categories of new job types in skilled roles which didn't previously exist, according to Amazon.

3. News in brief: Digital technology stories from around the world

TikTok has introduced a new feature that lets you save songs from videos played on the platform directly to your Spotify or Amazon Music accounts simply by pushing an "add song" button on the app. The new feature could further increase TikTok's influence in driving the music charts and new artists' success.

Container terminals in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth in Australia, operated by DP World, are being brought back online following a major cybersecurity attack. The event forced port operations to disconnect from the internet, disrupting the flow of containers in and out of the facilities.

Tech giants Meta and Snap must declare how they plan to protect children from accessing harmful material on their platforms by a 1 December 2023 deadline, according to the European Commission. The EU has sent similar requests to other companies, including Alphabet, YouTube and TikTok.

Google affiliate Jigsaw has released a new tool called Altitude, which allows smaller online platforms to detect and remove terrorist content on their platform easily. Extreme content is increasingly targeted toward smaller sites, as big tech platforms like Google and Facebook have largely removed this content from their platforms.

A new 3D, generative AI platform called Atlas has been launched with $6 million in funding. It enables developers to build virtual worlds, including intricate 3D models from reference images and text, in a fraction of the time it takes using conventional coding methods.

4. More about technology on Agenda

The Global Collaboration Village, a World Economic Forum, Accenture and Microsoft purpose-built platform, brings together 140 organizations to harness the potential of metaverse virtual- and augmented-reality use cases to solve real-world challenges. Here's how.

We need to embrace an agile, multi-stakeholder approach to regulating AI to avoid development outpacing our capacity to regulate it, say a digital policy and a technology ethics expert. They warn that fragmented global efforts to construct a regulatory framework may not mitigate risks or help us realize AI's enormous potential.

Want to know what's been happening in the world of AI in 2023? These six must-read blogs tell you everything you need to know, from transforming the health sector to the latest developments in AI legislation.

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