Fourth Industrial Revolution

UN and EU both agree new AI rules, and other digital technology stories you need to know

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Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words "Artificial Intelligence AI" in this illustration.

The UN has passed a new artificial intelligence resolution. Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Cathy Li
Head, AI, Data and Metaverse; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum Geneva
  • This round-up brings you key digital technology stories from the past fortnight.
  • Top digital technology stories: Two world firsts as UN and EU agree new artificial intelligence rules; UK and US sign bilateral AI agreement; AI being used to track illegal fishing.

1. New artificial intelligence rules agreed by UN and EU

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted the first global resolution on artificial intelligence (AI). It asks countries to safeguard human rights, protect personal data and monitor AI for risks.

The non-binding resolution was universally adopted by UNGA, having been proposed by the United States and co-sponsored by China and more than 120 other member nations.

"Today, all 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly have spoken in one voice, and together chosen to govern artificial intelligence rather than let it govern us," US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

The resolution follows moves by governments around the world to introduce their own AI regulations.

In another first, the European Parliament has approved a set of legally binding rules to govern AI risks – the most comprehensive of any produced to date. The law aims to regulate the technology based on its potential to cause societal harm.

"The AI act is not the end of the journey but the starting point for new governance built around technology," said MEP Dragos Tudorache, as reported by the BBC.

2. UK and US agree deal to work together on AI

Following on from the UN and EU announcements, the United Kingdom and United States have signed the first bilateral agreement to work together on testing advanced AI.

The two countries will form a partnership to ensure that AI tools and the large language models underpin them are safe.

"We all know AI is the defining technology of our generation," Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said. "This partnership will accelerate both of our institutes' work across the full spectrum to address the risks of our national security concerns and the concerns of our broader society."

The two countries are planning at least one joint testing exercise on a publicly accessible model, and also potential exchanges between government-led AI safety institutes.


3. News in brief: Other tech stories to know

The UK's National Grid has warned that AI and quantum computing could drive a six-fold increase in data centre power usage in the next 10 years, the BBC reports.

HSBC has announced a new $1 billion growth fund that will lend to companies scaling up via digital platforms in Southeast Asia.

Global Fishing Watch, a partnership between Google, marine conservation body Oceana, and environmental group Skywatch, is using artificial intelligence and satellite imagery to map the movements of commercial fishing vessels to help tackle illegal fishing.

Researchers at the University of Exeter have developed an AI system to track and trace the invasive Asian hornet species.

A new survey of IT, Information Security and DevOps leaders suggests there's a growing divide between the top performers and the rest when it comes to digital trust.


How is the World Economic Forum creating guardrails for Artificial Intelligence?

4. More on digital technology on Agenda

How can we build trust in AI? Two recent Agenda articles explore just this:

In high-risk settings like healthcare, the algorithms used should be interpretable and free from bias, writes Eugenio Zuccarelli, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper from the Genoa hub, advocating for a greater understanding of why they produce certain results.

The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer found just 30% of respondents embrace AI, with opinions divided on acceptance and trust in the technology. But now is the time to address public reservations because AI isn’t going anywhere, argues Edelman General Manager Margot Edelman.

AI adoption also risks a workplace gender gap, with men outpacing the use of generative AI across every age group, according to a new survey by the Oliver Wyman Forum.

Related topics:
Fourth Industrial RevolutionEmerging Technologies
1. New artificial intelligence rules agreed by UN and EU2. UK and US agree deal to work together on AI3. News in brief: Other tech stories to know4. More on digital technology on Agenda

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