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As the United Nations General Assembly gathered this week in New York, the U.N. Secretary-General’s envoy on technology, Amandeep Gill, hosted an event titled Governing AI for Humanity, where participants discussed the risks that AI might pose and the challenges of achieving international cooperation on artificial intelligence.

Secretary-General António Guterres and Gill have said they believe that a new U.N. agency will be required to help the world cooperate in managing this powerful technology. But the issues that the new entity would seek to address and its structure are yet to be determined, and some observers say that ambitious plans for global cooperation like this rarely get the required support of powerful nations.

Gill has led efforts to make advanced forms of technology safer before. He was chair of the Group of Governmental Experts of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons when the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which sought to compel governments to outlaw the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems, failed to gain traction with global superpowers including the U.S. and Russia. Now, Gill is shepherding an even more ambitious effort to foster international cooperation on AI.

AI has developed at a blistering pace in the last few years, and experts don’t expect this progress to slow any time soon. The impacts of AI will be felt far beyond the borders of the countries in which it is developed, leading world leaders and technologists to call for international cooperation on AI issues.

At a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in July, Guterres made the case for the U.N. as the appropriate forum for this cooperation. The High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence, the membership of which will be announced in October, is the next step towards the establishment of a U.N. AI agency. 

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