The United Nations’ new Centre on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, opening in The Hague, will serve as an international resource for organizations concerned with the legal, ethical and societal concerns these new technologies create. This will be the first permanent U.N. agency devoted to these topics.
“The aim of the centre is to enhance understanding of the risk-benefit duality of artificial intelligence and robotics through improved coordination, knowledge collection and dissemination, awareness-raising and outreach activities[…]the main outcome[…]will be that all stakeholders, including policy makers and governmental officials, possess improved knowledge and understanding of both the risks and benefits of such technologies," said Cindy J. Smith, director of the U.N. Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).
The centre will consolidate existing related projects already underway in other United Nations agencies.
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The new centre will address concerns ranging from the benefits these new technologies offer to the downside of possible mass unemployment and the risks of autonomous weapons. For example, a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers determined that up to 30 percent of UK workers are at risk of being replaced by robots within 15 years, with some sectors losing 50 percent of current jobs. Fears of the dangers of autonomous weapons—the so-called “third revolution” in warfare—have prompted science and industry leaders like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking to urge governments to impose a preemptive ban on their development.
Irakli Beridze, senior strategic adviser to the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, described the new centre’s brief to include devising ways to exploit new technologies for positive purposes.
“One of our most important tasks is to set up a network of experts from business, knowledge institutes, civil society organisations and governments[…]we want to start concrete projects. We will not be a talking club," he said.