Tech giants commit to UNESCO framework for ethical AI at Brdo
Eight tech companies, among them Microsoft, Mastercard and Lenovo, pledged to build more ethical AI in line with UNESCO recommendations as they signed an agreement to this effect at the Global Forum on the Ethics of AI 2024 in Slovenia's Brdo pri Kranju on 6 February.
The agreement, based on the 2021 UNESCO-forged recommendations that are the first international legal instrument and ethical framework for the use of artificial intelligence, was also signed by GSMA, INNIT, LG, Salesforce and Telefonica.
The agreement compels the companies to fully play their role in guaranteeing human rights in the design, development, purchase, sale, and use of AI. This is the first time that companies have engaged with the UN in this area, UNESCO wrote.
"It states that due diligence, must be carried out in order to meet safety standards, to identify the adverse effects of AI, and timely measures taken to prevent, mitigate, or remedy them, in line with domestic legislation.
"The agreement also notes that ex-ante testing, (testing before a new AI system is released onto the market) is essential. But given the fast evolution of AI systems already on the market, it also calls for the development of ex-post (post-deployment) risk assessments and mitigation practices," UNESCO added.
The organisation's Director General Audrey Azoulay described the agreement as a major step and called "on all tech stakeholders to follow the example of these first eight companies".
"This alliance of the public and private sectors is critical to building AI for the common good," she said as the agreement was signed on the sidelines of the second UNESCO Global Forum on the Ethics of AI, a two-day event hosted by Slovenia's government in Brdo pri Kranju.
The forum has brought together more than 600 representatives from governments, international organisations, government institutions, academia, research, NGOs and business from 67 countries.
As the event got underway on 5 February, representatives from Senegal, Chile, Vietnam, Jamaica, Oman, the US, Estonia, Greece and Mexico briefly assessed readiness according to UNESCO's criteria. The state of AI in their countries was moreover outlined by the representatives of Gabon, Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, Lithuania, Romania and the Maldives.
The second day featured discussions on AI as a tool to improve the quality of life for all and on best practice in the management of AI. Participants will also discuss the use of AI in the private sector and in the judiciary, and its role in tackling gender stereotypes.