Harness Technological Advances for ‘the Common Good’, Secretary-General Tells Artificial Intelligence Summit

SG/SM/19604-PI/2263
28 May 2019

Harness Technological Advances for ‘the Common Good’, Secretary-General Tells Artificial Intelligence Summit

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the third Artificial Intelligence for Good Global Summit, taking place in Geneva from 28 to 31 May:

It is a pleasure to greet this Artificial Intelligence for Good Global Summit.  I thank the International Telecommunications Union and our many partners for gathering to explore how technology can advance sustainable development and a better future for all.

Artificial intelligence brings the promise of improved access to health care, accelerated economic development and other gains.  But, we can also see dangers:  a world with diminished privacy, less human agency and accountability, and where income inequality widens and access to work narrows for millions.

The United Nations is already using artificial intelligence to maximize its impact.  United Nations teams are applying it to tackle hunger, deliver medicine and connect schools.  These efforts must be supported and encouraged.

If we are to harness the benefits of artificial intelligence and address the risks, we must all work together — Governments, industry, academia and civil society — to develop the frameworks and systems that enable responsible innovation.

These systems must be nimble and adaptable, capable of developing norms and self-regulation standards alongside legally binding laws and instruments when needed, as in the case of lethal autonomous weapons.

As I have said before, autonomous machines with the power and discretion to select targets and take lives without human involvement are politically unacceptable, morally repugnant and should be prohibited by international law.

The United Nations is well placed to be a forum for debate on how best to guide progress to better serve humanity.

We must seize the moment, in partnership, to deliver on the promise of technological advances and harness them for the common good.

For information media. Not an official record.