Tech Industry Responds to UN Calls for Global AI Watchdog

Tech industry experts have given their support to calls for a new global AI watchdog. The call to action comes as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave his backing to a proposal by leading artificial intelligence executives for the creation of an international AI watchdog body like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

AI Artificial Intelligence words are seen in this illustration taken, May 4, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

​​​​​​​Generative AI technology that can spin authoritative prose from text prompts has captivated the public since ChatGPT launched six months ago and became the fastest growing app of all time. AI has also become a focus of concern over its ability to create deepfake pictures and other misinformation.

"Alarm bells over the latest form of artificial intelligence – generative AI – are deafening. And they are loudest from the developers who designed it," Guterres told reporters. "We must take those warnings seriously."

He has announced plans to start work by the end of the year on a high-level AI advisory body to regularly review AI governance arrangements and offer recommendations on how they can align with human rights, the rule of law and common good.

But on Monday he added: "I would be favourable to the idea that we could have an artificial intelligence agency ... inspired by what the international agency of atomic energy is today."

Guterres said such a model could be "very interesting" but noted that "only member states can create it, not the Secretariat of the United Nations". The Vienna-based IAEA was created in 1957 and promotes the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies while watching for possible violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It has 176 member states.

ChatGPT's creator OpenAI said last month that a body like the IAEA could place restrictions on deployment, vet compliance with safety standards and track usage of computing power.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also supported the idea and said he wants Britain to be home to global AI safety regulation. Britain is due to host a summit later this year on how coordinated international action can tackle the risks of AI.

Responding to the news Joanna Reynolds, Managing Director of Bordeaux & Burgundy said:

“The rapid rise of AI adoption means that many firms are already benefitting from the numerous advantages of this technology, yet few safeguards are in place.

“When it comes to regulating new technology, it’s critical to get the balance right between protecting users without slowing innovation, so a global watchdog to raise standards could be a good way to keep AI in check,” added Reynolds.

Sjuul van der Leeuw, CEO of Deployteq said: “Tools like generative AI can help rather than hinder the creative work of marketers, but the idea of raising global standards through a global watchdog could help build confidence in the future of the industry.  Used correctly, AI can bring huge benefits, but ensuring companies and individuals follow best practice will allow a level of accountability and governance so that these powerful tools are deployed correctly and kept in check.”

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