Recommendations on ethics in artificial intelligence

Alert on the risks and actions to address the effects of artificial intelligence for the benefit of society. There is an imperative that intelligent machines do not violate human rights. It is a tool that brings benefits to humanity.

Recommendations on ethics in artificial intelligence
Introduction of a recommendation on ethics in artificial intelligence. Photo by Icons8 Team / Unsplash

One of the objectives of the Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which was presented by UNAM and the international organization, is to ensure that artificial intelligence (AI), which is advancing in various fields, is a scientific development that seeks the general welfare of humanity and does not deepen differences and inequalities between people, cultures, and countries. In 2021, UNESCO Member States adopted this first global standard, an instrument in the form of a recommendation that sets out principles and values to realize the benefits of this technology and reduce the risks associated with it.

"Artificial intelligence plays an increasingly important role in the everyday functioning of society in ways that are often not apparent, others are, and that once implemented tend to become part of the usual, every day, and are not necessarily questioned. This is not intrinsically bad, although there are many areas where the benefits are clear, as has happened with other technological transitions, it can exacerbate inequalities between people and countries," said UNAM's Scientific Research Coordinator (CIC), William Lee Alardín.

The joint presentation was carried out remotely by UNESCO, UNAM -through the CIC-, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the University Human Rights Program (PUDH), and the Chair of Diplomacy and Science Heritage. Lee Alardín suggested reflecting on the present and future use of artificial intelligence and its benefits to society. "This Recommendation touches on the risks and actions we must take to modulate the effects, directing them towards the benefits and away from prejudice as much as possible."

Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO's Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, explained that the document is a historic milestone for this international organization, "an ambitious Recommendation that makes a very concrete proposal to rethink the way we govern these technologies, and how they can contribute to improving the well-being of the population and reduce risks". The values it promotes are respect, protection, and promotion of individual guarantees, fundamental freedoms, and human dignity; the prosperity of the environment and ecosystems; ensuring diversity and inclusion, and living in peaceful, just, and interconnected societies.

The ten principles that comprise it: proportionality and do not harm; safety and security; fairness and non-discrimination; sustainability, as well as privacy and data protection. Likewise, oversight and human determination; transparency and explainability; responsibility and accountability; awareness and literacy; as well as governance and multi-sectoral and adaptive collaboration.

The governor of the state of Hidalgo and president of the National Conference of Governors, Omar Fayad Meneses, referred to the importance of science as a flag of national identity that needs to be promoted in Mexico. He said that in the UNESCO Recommendation there is a philosophical basis and a critical and ethical sense on which debate is invited since this technology is a new global language. "Those responsible for what entities with artificial intelligence do are, unquestionably, human beings themselves, governed in society by the laws, supported by principles and conditions that make up an ethics of responsibility".

In his opportunity, the head of the PUDH, Luis Raúl González Pérez, considered: "artificial intelligence is going through a stage of great growth and development. The impact of intelligent machines in people's daily lives is already a reality, therefore it is necessary to debate on the terms that develop and operate these technologies". They must not violate human rights and preserve people's dignity as mandated by this Recommendation.

In turn, Ana María Cetto Kramis, a researcher at the Institute of Physics of the UNAM and coordinator of Experts of the Global Alliance on Artificial Intelligence (AGIA) in Mexico (under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), described the document as of great value both for its advanced and substantial content and for the process that led to its formulation and adoption by the Member States, as well as for the timing of its issuance.

"Artificial intelligence is a tool that, properly used, can bring enormous advantages and benefits to humanity. Although it is in its infancy, it has already shown signs of its potential. But like any technological tool of modernity, it has the risk of being used for adverse purposes that threaten society, human rights, or the environment. It must be oriented towards the solution of today's critical problems".

The Recommendation includes several action-oriented chapters covering: gender, development and international cooperation, environment and ecosystems, health and social welfare, communication and information, and education and research.