UNESCO joins Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence as observer

UNESCO has joined, as the only other international institution besides the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Council and the Steering Committee of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) as an observer with the possibility of actively participating in the work of these bodies.

The first meeting of the GPAI Council, organized on 4 December 2020, was opened by Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, and Emmanuel Macron, President of France, and attended by Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Social and Human Sciences. This ministerial-level body provides strategic direction to GPAI and is responsible for all major decisions, including on membership and participation.

In her intervention, Gabriela Ramos underscored the importance for GPAI to address the challenges derived from AI and COVID and to maximize the impact of AI to tackle other challenges for humankind such as climate change. She also insisted on diversity and inclusion in AI technologies, including gender and the global south, and proposing co-creation and tailor-made solutions. Moreover, she offered support in enlarging GPAI membership with representatives from Africa, given UNESCO’s engagement with the region.

Gabriela Ramos appealed to GPAI members to ensure synergies with important international initiatives, and in particular UNESCO’s work on a Recommendation on Ethics of AI, the first global standard-setting instrument currently in the process of being elaborated. She also highlighted the tools proposed in the Recommendation, including an ethical impact assessment and readiness index.

GPAI is a multistakeholder initiative bringing together leading experts from science, industry, civil society, international organizations and government that share values to bridge the gap between theory and practice on AI by supporting cutting-edge research and applied activities on AI-related priorities.

The GPAI initiative was conceived by Canada and France during their G7 presidencies and launched in June 2020. It counts 15 founding members, including 14 countries and one international organization: Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Four more countries are to join following the first meeting of the Council: Brazil, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. GPAI intends to enlarge its membership in the future to include other countries and regions.

GPAI is supported by a Secretariat hosted by the OECD and two Centres of Expertise: one in Montreal (the International Centre of Expertise in Montreal for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence) and one in Paris (at the French National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology or INRIA).