The overall purpose of this Regional Forum is to raise awareness and promote reflection on the opportunities and challenges that AI and its correlated technologies pose to societies, governments, organizations and citizens. The conference will also explore the potential of AI in relation to the SDGs, particularly as regards the role of UNESCO in enhancing evolutions in the fields where the Organisation operates within the wider UN and societal ecosystem.
It is widely recognised that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has enormous potential for social good, promoting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, developing knowledge societies, and accelerating human progress. AI can help address many of humanity’s most critical social issues: including those related to education, science, culture, media, access to information, and poverty alleviation. AI technologies offer major opportunities if they are developed in respect of universal norms and standards, and if they are anchored in peace, humanism, and sustainable development. Recent advancements in AI and other digital technologies such as robotics, big data analytics, and the Internet of Things are deeply transforming our societies.
In this regard, new developments using Artificial Intelligence have a direct impact on all of UNESCO’s fields of competence. Considering rapid developments in this field, the challenges and opportunities related to harnessing AI for sustainable development must be discussed with stakeholders from different sectors and regions. For example, what role will AI play in access to information, knowledge and science, research, education and cultural expressions? What are the ethical implications of AI in society, in education and for children using AI-enabled platforms? How is data being collected, managed and used for the development of AI and what are the implications for the right to privacy and freedom of expression? How should key issues associated with AI, such as AI governance, the ethical dimensions of AI, transparent and accountable algorithms, privacy and personal data protection be addressed by different actors such as government, industry and international organizations?
Due to the importance of this topic to Brazil and Latin America, a Regional Forum on Artificial Intelligence will be jointly organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Brazilian Network Information Center (NIC.br) through its Regional Center for Studies on the Development of the Information Society (Cetic.br), and the Brazilian Government, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE) and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC). In recent years, several countries have been designing public policies and establishing national artificial intelligence strategies to drive the development and adoption of AI systems. Brazil is currently in the process of developing its national AI strategy. Similarly, other countries in Latin America have developed or are in the process of developing their national AI strategies. For the socioeconomic development of LAC region, the design of public policies fostering investments in AI, the development of partnership with leading private sector companies, academia and global partners, and the development of skills among the workforce in the field of AI are crucial initiatives that must be undertaken by governments. Equally important is the establishment of a proper legal framework that can support the development of ethical, transparent and accountable AI-based applications.
In Latin American and Caribbean countries, the development and use of AI applications and policies vary across societies and economies, as well as in institutional and governance systems according to political priorities. In this regard, this Forum will bring together key stakeholders from Latin America and the Caribbean from the public and private sector, technical community, media and academia, civil society and international organizations to facilitate dialogue between stakeholder groups on the potential benefits and challenges of AI and its development. This forum will provide a unique opportunity to learn from the experience of those countries that have successfully established national AI strategies in and outside of the LAC region.
This Forum inscribes itself as part of a series of UNESCO events on Artificial Intelligence and follows the Global conference "Principles for Artificial Intelligence: Towards a Humanistic Approach?" that took place on 4 March 2019 in Paris; the debate on ethics of new technologies and artificial intelligence, the "International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Education" that took place on May 16-18 2019 in Beijing, and the Forum on Artificial Intelligence in Africa that took place on 12-13 December 2018 in Benguérir. UNESCO’s work in this area reflects growing awareness that AI can help address many of humanity’s challenges, including those related to education, access to information, knowledge and sciences, culture, media, gender equality and poverty alleviation. But to put these opportunities to good use, AI must develop with respect to universally recognized rights and values.
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