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White House hails first UN AI resolution as ‘landmark achievement’

The White House applauded the newly approved United Nations resolution on artificial intelligence (AI) safety Thursday, calling it a “historic step” to ensuring “trustworthy” advancements in technology.

The U.N. General Assembly approved the resolution, proposed by the United States and co-sponsored by 123 other countries, senior administration officials told reporters Thursday.

The proposal includes a “comprehensive vision” for nations’ deployment and use of AI technology and how countries should respond to its benefits and challenges.

“We now look forward to building off of this landmark achievement,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan wrote in a statement.  “As this technology swiftly evolves, we will continue to strengthen international cooperation and respond to the far-reaching implications of AI.”

The resolution offers guidance to countries on the international use of AI, including its risks, privacy protection and the prevention of misuse, bias and discrimination, Sullivan said.

Developed with the help of “civil society and private sector experts,” he said the resolution touches upon the priorities of developing countries, including how AI can advance sustainable development.

The resolution was met with the support of all 193 U.N. member nations and was adopted with a bang of the gavel, The Associated Press reported.

The first-ever stand-alone resolution came after months of negotiations among the members.

“In a moment in which the world is seen to be agreeing on little, perhaps the most quietly radical aspect of this resolution is the wide consensus forged in the name of advancing progress,” U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said during remarks to the assembly before the vote.

“Today, as the U.N. and AI finally intersect, we have the opportunity — and the responsibility — to choose, as one united global community, to govern this technology rather than let it govern us,” she continued. “So let us reaffirm that AI will be created and deployed through the lens of humanity and dignity, safety and security, human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Vice President Harris said the resolution also reflects the “extensive consultation” among the member countries.

“Together we have set a path whereby AI can be harnessed for sustainable development, all nations gain access to AI resources and expertise, and all nations understand the need to protect the safety, privacy, and human rights of their citizens,” she wrote in a statement.

The resolution comes amid growing concerns over the emerging technology’s capabilities and the security risks associated with it. Congressional leaders have repeatedly sounded the alarm over the past year, hosting a series of hearings and forums to learn more about AI.

President Biden issued a sweeping executive order on AI last October that was centered on the technology and risk management. The order created the White House AI Council — including various members of his Cabinet — which is expected to meet regularly on the issue.

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