CTA and WITSA Submission to UN AI Advisory Body Interim Report

Apr 2

We are pleased to announce that CTA and WITSA have jointly filed the attached comments to the UN Secretary-General's AI Advisory Body in response to its Interim Report: Governing AI for Humanity. The UN Interim Report calls for a closer alignment between international norms and how AI is developed and rolled out. The central piece of the report is a proposal to strengthen international governance of AI by carrying out seven critical functions such as horizon scanning for risks and supporting international collaboration on data, and computing capacity and talent to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also includes recommendations to enhance accountability and ensure an equitable voice for all countries (ref. https://www.un.org/en/ai-advisory-body).

The submitted comments are fully aligned with WITSA’s established AI policy principles, as stated in our AI policy position paper entitled “Building Trust and Delivering on the Promise of Artificial Intelligence,” and our “WITSA AI Declaration: Shaping the Future Through Ethical, Inclusive, Sustainable and Innovative AI”.

In the set of comments, we support international dialogue and collaboration to realize the numerous opportunities that AI has to offer, and urge the UN to recognize the private sector’s efforts to create industry-based technical standards for the safe, secure, and trustworthy development and deployment of AI, which address many of the concerns outlined in the UN Report. However, we note that national and regional policy and standardization efforts have already begun, and the UN should therefore not act in haste to develop international standards without first understanding the landscape, outcomes, and efficacy of these existing efforts.

We state that the UN should avoid endorsing technology access mandates which would require developers or deployers to make their models or systems public or disclose trade secrets. Such a mandate would undermine innovation. Instead, engagement in voluntary programs that increase access and capacity is likely to yield more tangible benefits. We also caution against the UN creating any new supervisory organization or regime that will conflict with or overlap existing institutions in member states, and that creating additional authorities, without considering existing precedent or authorities, will only increase compliance costs without achieving the UN’s policy objectives.

The UN Report suggests significant new policy development for AI in an area already dominated by domestic and international regulators, legislators, and standards developers. However, regulating the technology development and deployment of AI is well beyond the UN’s international role. Nevertheless, we agree on the importance of global dialogue about AI innovation, governance, and international collaboration, where all stakeholders have opportunity to offer their input, based on expertise and role in the AI lifecycle of development, deployment. Therefore, the UN should instead commence an inquiry to evaluate the progress made and standards proposed for the safe deployment and use of AI systems.

Many thanks to WITSA Public Policy Chairman and CTA Vice President of Emerging Technology Policy, Doug Johnson, and his team at CTA for facilitating this initiative!