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What Global AI Governance Must Do

If artificial intelligence is to fulfill its global potential, new structures and guardrails are needed to help all of humanity thrive as it evolves and increasingly becomes a part of everyday life. While the risks and challenges differ across regions and contexts, five core principles should guide policymaking.

NEW YORK – Although artificial intelligence has been quietly helping us for decades, with progress accelerating in recent years, 2023 will be remembered as a “big bang” moment. With the advent of generative AI, the technology has broken through in popular consciousness and is shaping public discourse, influencing investment and economic activity, sparking geopolitical competition, and changing all manner of human activities, from education to health care to the arts. Each week brings some new breathtaking development. AI is not going away, and change is accelerating.

Policymaking is moving almost as fast, with the launch of new regulatory initiatives and fora seeking to meet the moment. But while ongoing efforts by the G7, the European Union, and the United States are encouraging, none of them is universal, representing the global commons. In fact, with AI development driven by a handful of CEOs and market actors in just a few countries, the voices of the majority, particularly from the Global South, have been absent from governance discussions.

The unique challenges that AI poses demand a coordinated global approach to governance, and only one institution has the inclusive legitimacy needed to organize such a response: the United Nations. We must get AI governance right if we are to harness its potential and mitigate its risks. With that in mind, the UN High-level Advisory Body on AI was established to offer analysis and recommendations for addressing the global governance deficit. It comprises a group of 38 individuals from around the world, representing a diversity of geographies, gender, disciplinary backgrounds, and age, and drawing on expertise from government, civil society, the private sector, and academia.