Expected Council Action
In July, the UK is planning to organise a high-level briefing on “Artificial Intelligence (AI): Opportunities and Risks for International Peace and Security” under the “Maintenance of international peace and security” agenda item. James Cleverly, the UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs, will chair the meeting. Anticipated briefers are UN Secretary-General António Guterres; Demis Hassabis, CEO of Google DeepMind; and Kai-Fu Lee, Co-founder of Sinovation Ventures.
No outcome is anticipated.
In recent years, there have been significant advances in the development of AI-powered tools and technologies. AI systems can perform a wide range of cognitive tasks, such as generating text, identifying patterns, and interpreting speech. AI systems can learn how to perform certain tasks by processing large datasets, which they use to model their own decision-making.
AI technologies and tools are playing an increasingly critical role in the UN’s work. They contribute to conflict prevention by improving early warning and early action, facilitate the coordination of humanitarian assistance, support peacekeeping operations and the protection of civilians, expand access to mediation processes, and aid in reconciliation and post-conflict peacebuilding efforts. The use of AI has the potential to facilitate major improvements in addressing threats to international peace and security.
On the other hand, AI poses a serious risk if misused by states and non-state actors to contribute to instability and exacerbate conflict situations, including through the spread of online disinformation and hate speech. Rogue actors can use AI tools and technologies to increase their cyber-attack capabilities. AI could potentially be used to design bioweapons and weapons of mass destruction.
The meeting appears to be part of the broader campaign by the UK to bring more attention to the challenges posed by the rapid development of AI. In a 7 June statement, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the UK will host the first major summit on AI safety later in 2023. The summit is expected to foster discussions on the risks of AI and options for internationally coordinated action to mitigate them. Another objective of the summit is to provide a platform for countries’ collaborative efforts in developing a shared approach to alleviating these risks.
In recent years, Council members have shown increased interest in addressing the role of emerging technologies and their implications for international peace and security. These include meetings on: technology and security (23 May 2022); technology and peacekeeping (18 August 2021); and cybersecurity (29 June 2021). Certain AI-related issues have been raised in some of these meetings and in informal meetings held under the Arria-formula meeting format. The meeting planned for July will be the first formal Council meeting focused exclusively on AI.
UN DOCUMENTS ON INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES
|Security Council Meeting Records
|23 May 2022S/PV.9039
|This was a briefing on technology and security.
|18 August 2021S/PV.8838
|This was a Security Council meeting on the use of technology in peacekeeping.
|29 June 2021S/2021/621
|This letter transmitted the briefings from the high-level virtual debate on cybersecurity.