UN seeks cooperation on digital technologies

June 16, 2020

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has released a new report entitled Roadmap for Digital Cooperation that depicts eight primary action areas for getting digital technologies to advance toward a safer and more equitable digital world.

The overarching message is that there should be joint coordination and collaboration among UN member states, the UN system as a whole, the private sector and other stakeholders. 

In summary, the eight areas discussed are:

  • Global Connectivity – promote regulatory environments for local, regional, and worldwide connectivity needs, and establish a universal baseline for individual digital connectivity.
  • Digital Public Goods – promote digital public goods including open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards, and open content, adhering to applicable domestic and international laws.
  • Digital Inclusion – promote digital inclusion scorecards, working with host governments to develop action plans for enhancing digital inclusion in their areas and as abiding by data protection laws.
  • Digital Capacity-Building – promote holistic approaches to digital capacity building for sustainable development and establish a network of stakeholders as a clearinghouse for guidance, funding, and advice on digital readiness and strategy.
  • Digital Human Rights – promote the placement of human rights at the centre of regulatory frameworks and legislation pertaining to digital technologies.
  • Artificial Intelligence – promote AI that is trustworthy, be human-rights based, safe, sustainable, and that fosters peace.
  • Digital Trust and Security – promote the deployment of digital technologies in a safe and trustworthy manner and aim to narrow the digital divide.
  • Global Digital Cooperation – promote stronger links among stakeholders on digital cooperation and the adoption of a digital commons architecture

The UNICRL Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics contributed to the roadmap and as pointed out by Irakli Beridze, Head of the Centre, the report emphasizes that though AI brings enormous benefits to the digital era there is also the other side of the coin that AI can also compromise the safety and agency of the public at large. As such, global AI cooperation is especially needed during this period of initial formulation and fielding of widespread AI systems.

Reporting by Dr Lance Eliot our US Associate Editor for Computers & Law