UNESCO to support over 50 nations in designing Ethical AI Policy

Need for national laws to regulate development & deployment of AI



July 19, 2023

/ By / New Delhi

UNESCO to support over 50 nations in designing Ethical AI Policy

As part of its efforts to regulate the development and use of artificial intelligence, UNESCO is providing support to at least 50 countries

Worried over the rapid and completely unregulated development and deployment of artificial intelligence, UNESCO members have been working on formulating uniform policies to govern this sector. UNESCO says it will assist over 50 countries to develop adequate policies and laws for regulation of AI.

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United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has decided to support at least 50 countries in helping them formulate policies and laws to regulate the development and use of artificial intelligence.

In a press statement, UNESCO says that earlier this month, it published its AI Readiness Assessment Methodology, a diagnostic tool to support governments in ensuring Artificial Intelligence is developed and deployed ethically, in line with its Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, adopted unanimously by its Member States in November 2021.

The Paris-based organisation adds that it worked with a high-level group of AI experts from all regions of the world to develop the Readiness Assessment Methodology (RAM) in 2022. The tool is a comprehensive assessment that tests the adequacy and pertinence of existing national laws and policies to frame the technological development positively, and gauges the technical capacities of public servants and institutions.

Pinpointing a precise plan of action

UNESCO says that the RAM provides an assessment of a country’s legal, social, cultural, scientific, educational, technical and infrastructural AI capacities. It also indicates whether a country’s AI systems align with the values, principles and policy areas set out in UNESCO’s Recommendation.

The assessment is conducted by national experts, hired by UNESCO, who have a strong understanding of the national context. The end product of the RAM will be a comprehensive report, enabling experts and policy makers to pinpoint what institutional and regulatory changes are needed to take advantage of these technologies while protecting against its shortfalls, says the statement by UNESCO.

These changes may involve costly capacity-building efforts, and UNESCO is committed to using its networks and expertise to support countries, particularly through its “AI Experts without Borders” network, launched in June 2023. This network will assist countries in developing policies, using international benchmarks as a reference.

50 countries to implement in 2023

“Countries are at different stages of readiness to implement the UNESCO’s Ethics of AI Recommendation, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. They also have different societal preferences, risk thresholds and innovation landscapes. UNESCO’s tool takes these specificities into account while bringing an international perspective, so we can learn together on how effectively we can address the AI challenges,” says Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO.

UNESCO adds that 50 countries are engaged with it in the implementation of RAM this year. These include Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Brazil, Botswana, Chad, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, Gabon, India, Kenya, Malawi, the Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe Senegal, South Africa, Timor Leste, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

National analyses that will feed the international dialogue

UNESCO says its RAM is implemented with the support of the European Commission, the Japanese Development Cooperation, the Patrick McGovern Foundation and the Development Bank in Latin America or La Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF).

Country reports, based on the RAM diagnostic assessment will be published on UNESCO’s   AI Ethical Observatory to be unveiled in the coming weeks and launched with the Alan Turing Institute in the United Kingdom. It will be an online transparency portal for the latest data and analysis on the ethical development and use of AI around the world, and a platform for best practice sharing.

A report synthesising the lessons learnt in the preparation of the RAM will be published in the upcoming weeks. Its results will deliver insights that will then inform the Global Forum on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, to take place in Slovenia in early 2024, says UNESCO.



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