UN Security Council Convenes First-ever Meeting on AI

U.N. Secretary-General called for a global AI watchdog that can monitor AI like nuclear weapons

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

July 19, 2023

1 Min Read
Image of Secretary-General António Guterres at a desk, speaking
Credit: U.N. via YouTube

At a Glance

  • First-ever U.N. Security Council meeting on AI calls for a global monitoring body akin to nuclear weapons surveillance.
  • U.N. Secretary General António Guterres also calls for a ban on autonomous weapons by 2026.

The U.N. Security Council, a 15-nation body responsible for international peace and security, held its first-ever meeting concerning AI, with Secretary-General António Guterres calling for a global watchdog to monitor its planetary-wide risks.

Guterres said the watchdog would oversee AI regulation akin to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors nuclear power plants and weapons. The prospective body would be made up of AI experts who would share their knowledge with governments to bridge the knowledge gap when it comes to understanding AI.

“Without action to address these risks, we are derelict in our responsibilities to present & future generations,” Guterres tweeted after the event.

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During the meeting, U.K. foreign secretary James Cleverly said that “no country will be untouched by AI” and called for international dialogue on AI risks and opportunities for global peace and security. The U.K. holds the U.N. Security Council presidency for July.

Automated weapons concerns

Secretary-General Guterres also called for a legally binding agreement for banning autonomous war machines, stressing such a pact should be in place by 2026.

The topic of autonomous weapons of war arose during the meeting, with the Chinese representative outlining the country’s opposition to such uses.

Such a proposal has routinely arisen at the U.N. but has ultimately failed to pass. The U.N. Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons proposed banning autonomous weapons at a meeting in Geneva back in 2021 but failed after most major powers voted it down.

In January, the Pentagon revised rules on autonomous weapons, effectively greenlighting them if they’re constructed “responsibly.”

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About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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