UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday Chinese President Xi Jinping told him he wants the United Nations to be at the centre of talks on AI governance.
Guterres last year set up a panel of experts to make recommendations on how to govern the use of AI, a technology he has warned presents dangers and risks.
There are several initiatives at the international level on how to tackle AI but the UN panel is the largest since the body has 193 member states.
“Xi Jinping told me when we met that he can see that this is something that is very important, that the UN should be at the centre of this process,” Guterres told journalists on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The panel delivered an interim report in December, which recommended five “guiding principles” such as inclusivity, public interest and international law.
Joined by some of the members of the panel in Davos, Guterres insisted on the importance of “a universal and inclusive approach” to AI governance.
“We are extremely concerned by the fact that developing countries until now are particularly ill-prepared in this domain.”
He said he wanted to make sure AI did not become “another instrument to increase the divide and to increase inequality in the world”.
Guterres picked some 40 experts in technology, law and personal data protection — coming from academia, government and the private sector — to sit on the UN panel.
They include Amandeep Singh Gill, Guterres’ special envoy for technology and James Manyika, vice president for technology and society at Google and Alphabet.
Manyika said there was a lot of support from member states for the panel’s work, adding that they wanted to avoid “patchworks” and get a “collective framework” on AI governance.