AI for Good Summit: The digital and technological divide is no longer acceptable

Organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the annual forum is where humans meet artificial intelligence. It was so popular that it was oversubscribed, with queues hundreds of meters long, along one of Geneva’s largest conference centers, and internet bandwidth could barely cope with the influx. digital information.

The venue has become a showcase for cutting-edge technology, including AI-powered robots, brain-controlled tools, innovative AI solutions as well as hardware, the backbone of the global AI ecosystem.

Although eye-catching and entertaining, the machines are not the highlight of the mountain peak.

With everyone in mind

At center stage, both metaphorically and literally, are humans. The two-day summit’s main stage will see a series of presentations and panels discussing all aspects of human interaction with artificial intelligence, both the pros and cons. .

Opening the conference, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Secretary General of ITU, highlights the transformative potential of AI and emphasizes the need for inclusive and secure AI governance.

“In 2024 – in the age of AI and unimaginable opportunities – a third of humanity remains offline, excluded from the AI ​​revolution and without a voice,” Ms. Bogdan-Martin stated. “This digital and technological divide is no longer acceptable.”

Highlighting a critical digital divide – with 2.6 billion people globally still without internet access – she called for collective action to close this gap, stressing that equitable access to AI technology is essential for inclusive progress.

Global coordination

“We are racing against time. Recent developments in AI are not surprising,” she said.

To ensure global coordination in building safe and inclusive AI accessible to all, three key aspects need to be adhered to – risk management and security, said the ITU Director. , infrastructure and resource development as well as international cooperation.

Ms. Bogdan-Martin praised initiatives such as the historic United Nations General Assembly resolution promoting trustworthy AI systems and the ITU’s collaboration with UNESCO on the application of existing law to AI. She called for continued development momentum, with particular emphasis on the upcoming United Nations resolution. Future Summit.

Biological limbs and prenatal care

The ITU director shared inspiring examples from AI for Good Innovation Factory, including startup Bioniks, a Pakistan-led initiative designing prosthetic limbs, and Ultrasound AI, an effort improving women-led prenatal care based in the United States.

Talking to UN News at the forum, founder and CVO (Chief Vision Officer) of Bioniks Anas Niaz explained that the idea behind his startup is to produce affordable prosthetics for people with disabilities, including children. The use of smartphones for scanning, brain-controlled technology and a simple installation process, without the need to go to the hospital, help reduce costs, turning the company’s products into ‘valuable bionic limbs’. the most affordable in the world’.

Pakistani startup Bioniks showcases brain-controlled bionic limbs at the ITU's annual Good AI Global Summit 2024.

Pakistani startup Bioniks showcases brain-controlled bionic limbs at the ITU’s annual Good AI Global Summit 2024.

“You can send measurements via your mobile phone and we will send the prosthetic limb to your home. These prostheses are waterproof and people in humid climates can use them for almost anything. Children are writing with them,” Mr. Niaz explains, adding that as a social enterprise, Bioniks helps find sponsors for people who need a prosthetic limb but cannot afford to buy it.

Fighting fake news in the world’s biggest election year

As 2024 marks the world’s biggest election year in history, Ms Bogdan-Martin warned of the threats posed by deepfakes and misinformation. She announced ITU’s commitment to developing robust standards for digital content and watermark verification using AI, emphasizing that “standards build trust; they are the foundation of responsible AI.”

Some such solutions have been used by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), who helps governments apply AI to identify disinformation and misinformation attacks.

“When we provide election support to countries in their elections, we have an AI-based platform that serves as a misinformation detection platform and flags suspicious content for countries. that family. [further] human reality check,” said UNDP chief digital officer Robert Opp UN News.

‘Generation AI’

ITU Director Ms. Bogdan-Martin called on the global community to promote its role as the “AI generation”, supporting a future where artificial intelligence serves the best interests of humanity.

“Remember that the future doesn’t start with algorithms, it starts with us,” she said. “Right here, in our brains…the most complex, powerful and creative computer the world has ever known.”

Accelerate sustainable development

Addressing the AI ​​for Good Summit via video message, UN Secretary General António Guterres highlights the transformative potential of AI in promoting sustainable development worldwide.

Highlighting the dual nature of AI, Guterres outlined its enormous promise and emphasized the need for inclusive and responsible governance.

Mr. Guterres declared: “Artificial intelligence is changing the world and our lives.” “And it can promote sustainable development.”

ITU Annual AI for Good Global Summit 2024, Geneva.

He detailed the multifaceted applications of AI, noting its ability to revolutionize sectors such as education, healthcare, agriculture, housing and disaster management. He also illustrates how AI can deliver education and healthcare services to remote areas, improve agricultural productivity, design environmentally friendly housing and transportation systems, and provide early warnings of natural disasters.

“AI can be a game changer for Sustainable development goals (SDGs)”, the United Nations head affirmed. However, he cautioned that realizing AI’s full potential requires addressing its risks, including bias, misinformation and security threats.

“We need global coordination to build safe and inclusive AI that is accessible to everyone,” he said, praising ITU for working on AI standards early and for convene a summit.

Business community on board

These calls from leaders of international organizations have been heard by the digital community. Talk to UN NewsMelike Yetken Krilla, head of international organizations at Google, discussed some of the projects the data giant is supporting with the United Nations.

That includes a project in which Google data and AI are used to track progress toward the SDGs and map the globe as well as a project developed with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to create a flood hub, allowing users to forecast natural disasters up to seven days in advance as part of an early warning system.

“Last year, with the creation and launch of large language models and generative AI, this was the year of ‘Wow!’ I assert that this year is the year of ‘How?’ “How will we work with international organizations to define and establish AI rules of the road and guardrails,” said Ms. Yetken Krilla, adding that the United Nations is leading the process. program by drafting and creating the Global Digital Compact as well as other initiatives, including the Future Summit.


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