UN adopts Chinese resolution with US support to close AI access gap

UN adopts Chinese resolution with US support to close AI access gap

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution sponsored by China with U.S. support, urging developed and wealthy nations to close the widening gap with developing countries and ensure they have equal opportunities to use and benefit from artificial intelligence.

The resolution approved on Monday follows the adoption on March 21 the first UN resolution ON artificial intelligence led by the United States and co-sponsored by 123 countries, including China. It has given global support to the international effort to ensure that AI is “safe, secure, and trustworthy” and that all nations can benefit from it.

The adoption of the two non-binding resolutions demonstrates that the United States and China, rivals in many fieldsThey are both determined to play a key role in shaping the future of this powerful new technology and have collaborated on important first steps at an international level.

The adoption of both resolutions by consensus by the 193-member General Assembly demonstrates broad global support for their leadership on the issue.

Fu Cong, China’s ambassador to the UN, told reporters on Monday that the two resolutions are complementary, with the U.S. measure being “more general” and the newly adopted one focusing on “capacity-building.”

He called the Chinese resolution, which had more than 140 sponsors, “big and far-reaching,” and said, “We are very grateful for the positive role that the United States has played throughout this process.”

Nate Evans, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said Tuesday that the China-sponsored resolution “was negotiated in a way that advances the vision and approach the United States set out in March.”

“We have worked diligently and in good faith with developing and developed countries to strengthen the text, ensuring that it reaffirms safe, secure and trustworthy AI that respects human rights, is committed to digital inclusion and promotes sustainable development,” Evans said.

Fu said that artificial intelligence technology is advancing at an extremely rapid speed and that the issue has been discussed at the highest levels, including the leaders of the United States and China.

“We look forward to intensifying our cooperation with the United States and, for that matter, with all countries in the world on this issue, which … will have far-reaching implications across all dimensions,” he said.

The Chinese ambassador, however, strongly criticized the proposed rule by the U.S. Treasury Department, announced on June 21, that would limit and monitor U.S. investments in China for artificial intelligence, computer chips and quantum computing.

“We are firmly opposed to these sanctions,” Fu said. China does not believe the rule will be “helpful to the healthy development of AI technology per se, and by extension, it will divide the world in terms of standards and in terms of rules governing AI.” He called on the United States to lift the sanctions.

The Chinese resolution calls on the international community to “provide and promote a fair, open, inclusive and non-discriminatory business environment,” from AI design and development to its use. Fu said China does not believe the U.S.’s actions are conducive to an inclusive business environment.

Both the US and Chinese resolutions focus on Civilian applications of artificial intelligenceBut Fu told reporters that the military dimension of AI is also very important.

“We believe that it is necessary for the international community to take measures to reduce the dangers and risks posed by the development of artificial intelligence,” he said.

China is actively participating in the Geneva talks on controlling lethal autonomous weapons, Fu said, adding that some countries are considering proposing a UN General Assembly resolution on the military dimension of artificial intelligence this year, “and we fully support this initiative.”

Both the U.S. and Chinese resolutions warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence while touting its potential benefits in promoting economic development and people’s lives around the world.

The US resolution recognizes that “the governance of artificial intelligence systems is an evolving area” that requires further discussion on possible governance approaches. It calls on countries to ensure that personal data is protected, human rights are safeguarded, and AI is monitored for potential risks.

Fu, who headed the arms control department of China’s Foreign Ministry from 2018 to 2022, said Beijing introduced the resolution because of the widening gap in artificial intelligence technology between the developed North and the developing South.

He said China also wants to highlight the central role the United Nations should play in AI governance as the “most representative and inclusive international forum.”

The Chinese resolution aims to “bridge the gap between and within countries in terms of artificial intelligence and other digital divides” and promote international cooperation, including knowledge sharing and technology transfer to developing countries.

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