Delivered by: His Excellency Omran Sharaf, Assistant Minister for Advanced Sciences and Technology
I will begin by thanking Secretary-General Guterres for his attentive remarks today. Thank you to Foreign Secretary Cleverly and the UK Presidency for bringing such a salient topic to the Council for discussion, and I would also like to thank our other briefers for their illuminating statements.
How we negotiate the threats and opportunities of artificial intelligence is fast becoming one of the defining questions of our time.
Five years ago, the UAE and Switzerland brought forward a proposal to Secretary-General Guterres to establish a deliberative group to consider this very question.
Under the Secretary-General’s leadership, the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation was created, and it was clear from their deliberations that technologies such as AI could no longer go unchecked.
Computation processing power has followed Moore’s Law – doubling every 18months – since the dawn of the computer age.
AI development is now outpacing Moore’s Law and moving at break-neck speed, and governments are unable to keep up.
This is the wake up call we need.
It is time to be optimistic realists when it comes to AI, not just for assessing the threats this technology poses to international peace and security, but to harness the opportunities it offers.
To this end, I will make four brief points today.
First, we must establish rules of the road.
There is a brief window of opportunity available now where key stakeholders are willing to unite and consider the guardrails for this technology.
Member States should pick up the mantel from the Secretary-General and establish commonly agreed upon rules to govern AI before it is too late. This should include mechanisms to prevent AI tools from promoting hatred, misinformation, and disinformation that can fuel extremism and exacerbate conflict.
As with other cyber technologies, the use of AI should be firmly guided by international law since international law continues to apply in cyberspace. But we must also recognise that strategies may need to be adopted so that we can effectively apply the conventional principles of international law in the rapidly evolving context of AI development.
Second, artificial intelligence should become a tool to promote peacebuilding and the de-escalation of conflicts, not a threat multiplier.
AI-driven tools have the potential to more effectively analyse vast amounts of data, trends, and patterns. That translates to an increased ability to detect terrorist activity in real-time and predicting how the adverse effects of climate change may impact peace and security. It also paves the way for limiting the misattribution of attacks as well as ensuring responses in conflict settings are proportionate.
At the same time, we must be aware of the potential application of this technology in targeting critical infrastructure and fabricating false narratives to fuel tensions and incite violence.
Third, the biases of the real world should not be replicated by AI.
Decades of progress on the fight against discrimination, especially gender discrimination towards women and girls, as well as against persons with disabilities, will be undermined if we do not ensure an AI that is inclusive.
The High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation was clear in stating that an inclusive digital economy and society was a priority action for immediate attention.
Any opportunity that AI offers can only be a true opportunity if it is based on the principle of equality, both in its design and access.
Fourth, we must avoid over-regulating AI in a way that hinders innovation.
The creativity, research, and development activities occurring in the context of AI and taking place in emerging nations are critical for the sustainable growth and development of those nations.
To maintain this, emerging countries need flexibility and agile regulations. We should nurture a sector that encourages responsible behavior using smart, effective, and efficient regulations and guidelines and avoid too-rigid rules that can hamper the evolution of this technology.
Throughout history major shifts and leaps forward have often followed moments of major crisis.
The creation of the United Nations and the Security Council following the Second World War speaks to this very fact.
When it comes to AI, let’s not wait for the moment of crisis.
It’s high time to get ahead of the curve and shape an AI arena that is geared towards preserving international peace and security.
Thank you, Mr. President.