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Grand Interview: Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO

By Audrey AZOULAY, Director-General of UNESCO

Will new technologies widen the digital divide or bridge it?  It is up to us," says UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, "to ensure that the latter prevails over the former. And the international body she heads intends to assume its responsibility, she says, by putting all its weight behind ensuring that new technologies serve human dignity.

From the mastery of fire to that of the atom, via printing and the steam engine, each technical advance of humanity has given rise to its share of hopes and worries. Digital first and Intelligence and we have to work to ensure that the artificial ones today are no exception to this rule, and we have to work for the common good. New possibilities offered by technological progress.

Our collective imagination is marked by an immense cultural production - films, books, dystopias, etc. - which is the result of the development of the human body. of all kinds that reflect our fears of being overwhelmed by our own creation. Stephen Hawking himself predicted that ArtificialIntelligence could destroy the world.

Today, we find ourselves at the moment when we must articulate, on the one hand, the radicality of technological, social and economic innovation choices and, on the other hand, the responsibility of ethical choices. It is not a question of having. It is not about being afraid, nor about being naïve: it is about being fully aware of our responsibility.

A double responsibility: to understand what is at work, and then to define the crest path that will allow us to to put artificial intelligence at the service of the common good, as we have collectively defined it in the Agenda 2030 of the United Nations.

The fears that we nourish find their soil in the unanimous conviction that with Intelligence artificial, as with other emerging technological advances such as robotics, analysis, etc. of mega data or the Internet of Things, humanity is entering a new era, confronting the unknown. ArtificialIntelligence is not a questioning of technology, it is a questioning of our own humanity. A political, philosophical and ethical questioning. It is a real anthropological revolution that we live, in all areas of our lives, in our relationship to work, time and space, to others, to humans.

This is why this technological revolution is questioning us. Because by choosing how we develop these technologies, how we frame them, how we manage them, how we
orient, we choose how we forge the world of tomorrow. Already, innovations accomplished give us a glimpse of situations that raise questions. The autonomous for example, raises the question of who is responsible in the event of an accident, and on what criteria programme a decision when a potentially fatal choice has to be made. Some medical diagnostic systems based on Artificial Intelligence have proven to be fast and reliable, reliability, but again, in case of error, who is responsible? What are the nested biases in the algorithms? We need to seriously consider this question of responsibility which ultimately is ours, since we confer this power on the machines.

Before understanding what the limits of Artificial Intelligence are and if they exist, before even to consider strong artificial intelligence, and we already have to answer the essential ethical questions that we have to ask ourselves. pose the current Artificial Intelligences: who decides on the priorities and values programmed in machine algorithms? How far to push the autonomy and decision-making power of a machine?

In a world where access to these new technologies is very uneven, how can we ensure that they do not increase inequalities in development between countries, between genders? Knowing that deep learning is based on historical data, how can we ensure that decisions that Do the resulting biases not intensify the biases of the past? How can we ensure that power and information offered by Artificial Intelligence programmes are not used to oppress?

Inequalities, abuses of power, discrimination, all the excesses we can fear… that new technologies feed and nurture them reinforce, pre-exist these technologies. These abuses, these abuses, these inequalities are ours. From then the question becomes: how can we do this in so that new technologies do not reproduce and do not exacerbate our own weaknesses, but rather serve to strengthen the common good, in the service of humanist values, human dignity?

Wonderful potential tools for meet the sustainable development objectives of Agenda 2030

New technologies also offer unprecedented opportunities for the development of companies, of knowledge, of human progress. They can be tools to address some of the most common problems crucial to our societies.

I am thinking, for example, of some inspiring projects, from all over the world and presented toUNESCO. They aim to use new technologies on subjects as vast and diverse as the monitoring of the evolution of biodiversity of tropical forests, development of sustainable agriculture in Africa, the fight against genital mutilation and domestic violence against women, the communication of experience from music to the deaf and hard of hearing, or the personalisation of education by analysing in real time the pupil's learning...

We need to think and act collectively to ensure that new technologies that always remain at the service of sustainable development and the common good.

UNESCO in its role as a laboratory of ideas

UNESCO has considerable assets to keep the debate on new technologies alive, and is based above all on its universal vocation to the within the multilateral system of the United Nations.

UNESCO is a bridge between its Member States and civil society, the technical and scientific community, academia and the private sector, and offers them a platform for exchange and debate.

The prospects offered by new technologies, and in particular artificial intelligence, are also revolutionising all areas of the mandate of the Organisation, Science, Education, Science,Education, Science, Education, Science, Education, Science, Education culture, Communication and Information. His multidisciplinary expertise guarantees him an understanding of complete range of issues.

UNESCO has therefore played its role as a laboratory of ideas on Artificial Intelligence. A series of meetings took place on Artificial Intelligence in Paris in 2018, with, for example, the debate on"Artificial Intelligence" at the service of human rights and sustainable development goals:Promoting approaches multi-stakeholder, inclusive and open" in the framework of the of theInternet Governance Forum (November 2018). A first regional conference on Artificial Intelligence for Development in Africa was also held in Morocco in December.

2018: the subject is universal, and UNESCO can accompany it everywhere in the world, in a process of reflection on several scales.The reflection was deepened last March with the first international conference at UNESCO's"Principles for Artificial Intelligence: Towards a Humanistic Approach? ».

Reducing inequalities in access to AI

Our first challenge is to seek to reduce inequalities related to access to Artificial Intelligence and to new technologies.

The Member States of UNESCO adopted, at the 38th General Conference of the Organization, four principles to ensure the universality of the Internet, that the so-called "HOAM principles" - HO-A-M : Human Rights, Openness, Accessibility for all and Multiplicity of actors. Our action on theInternet and Artificial Intelligence must be built on the foundation of these principles.

They are at the heart of our programmes to teach girls and young women to be coded in countriesAfrican countries, the promotion of women in science, at the crossroads of our priorities Africa and equality of opportunity gender, or the organisation of Artificial Intelligence training courses in partnership with the private sector.

It is also the challenge of promoting science and technology open, open innovation and universal access knowledge that can reduce the gaps between countries in technological advances.

Issues raised in all sectors

While it is essential to guarantee skills at the most in order to seize the possibilities of ArtificialIntelligence, it is also necessary to develop a critical view of its consequences.

It has some in all fields, which we must think about and accompany: AI changes the methods of experimentation for scientific explanation of sciences social and natural and has an impact on the reasoning behind it. Artistic creation by IA puts in the status of the author, the algorithms for reevaluation, the 6 pose a risk to the preservation of the environment and the promotion of cultural diversity.

In the field of communication and information, Artificial Intelligence raises hopes for the strengthening of quality journalism and for a more filtering of hate speech. However, it does raise, at the same time, concerns about freedom of expression, and could increase the spread of misinformation if it is not developed around human rights and fuelled by a multi-stakeholder engagement: UNESCO is developing media and information training programmes to raise awareness of these risks and algorithms.

Use of Artificial Intelligence in the different sectors

In all of our sectors of action and for new technologies also present opportunities and challenges for all our objectives positive applications that we seek to identify and to operate with our network of public partners and private.

An International Conference will be held in next days in Beijing on the possibilities that ArtificialIntelligence offers for education, accessibility of learning, personalisation of the course...

AI is now an indispensable player to take on to achieve the goal of an education for all, quality for all.

We also work with Microsoft to ensure that decisions taken on the role of Artificial Intelligence in education are well informed. The applications of Artificial Intelligence are innumerable. The analysis of drone images, by example, enables us to fight against poaching, for example chimpanzees in the Wilderness Reserve Mount Nimba in Guinea.

We also use images of drones and their treatment by IA in the cultural field, in partnership with the company ICONEM, which produces such images, particularly of endangered sites such as Mosul.Artificial intelligence and new technologies thus play an important role in our "Rebuilding the Spirit of Mosul" initiative, through which UNESCO coordinates international efforts to restoration and rehabilitation of cultural heritage and the revival of educational and cultural institutions in Iraq.

The need to focus the news technologies for the good common

One need only mention these perspectives to feel inspired and confident in the opportunities open for the future. But an artificial intelligence is nothing other than the project it serves, under the conditions of the defined by those who programmed it, on the basis of the data that will have been provided.

And in this matter, we must make these choices with our eyes open, if we do not want to experience the "end of the Enlightenment", to use the words and the concern by Henry Kissinger, a young man of 95 years old.

New technologies are as valuable as we are to them by the use we make of it, and this is what we do value can be immense. Rebuilding confidence in new technologies involves being aware of the choices they imply and taking steps to ensure that when we develop them we do so ETHICS &TECH Report 2019 7 for the common good, ensuring that everyone, everywhere, benefits from this technological revolution which crosses borders.

To do this, it is essential to consider the implications of of these new technologies, and to identify public policies to guide and ensure ethical principles.

UNESCO's standard-setting role: expertise and decision on AI

For more than 25 years, UNESCO has developed an unparalleled expertise in this field and is working on questions of the ethics of science and technology, on subjects as decisive as the human genome, genetic data or climate change. Its normative function enables it to adopt texts which are binding on its Member States.

Through the World Commission on Ethics in Science and Technology (WCET), the scientific knowledge and technologies of at UNESCO, important work has already been carried out on theInternet of Things. UNESCO is therefore preparing to play its full role in the field of ArtificialIntelligence and its ethical issues.

A preliminary report drawn up by this Commission was presented last month to the 57 MemberStates of the Executive Board of UNESCO. This report highlighted the validity of theOrganization's mandate to adopt the objective of working on the development of guidelines on the ethics of Artificial Intelligence, under in the form of a UNESCO Recommendation.

This item is now on the agenda of the 40th session of the General Conference of UNESCO. This is the first step in a process that will run until 2021 and will result in the development of a new standard-setting instrument, after a worldwide conversation that will allow for a better understanding of the consciousness on the subject.

Conclusion: collectively building the trust

Through these actions, reflection and standard-setting, UNESCO seeks to guide the use of new technologies to make them a factor of peace and security of sustainable development, for the benefit of all and all of them.

To achieve this, we need to define the principles and directions for the development of the new technologies and collectively build the commitment of all stakeholders, from governments actors from the private sector, the scientific community and civil society, to ensure that it takes place in the respect for fundamental human rights and contributes to sustainable development.

It is our collective responsibility, towards the present and future generations.

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