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Experts advocate international AI cooperation, governance

Tsinghua University held the 2021 International AI Cooperation and Governance Forum on Dec 4 with the support of the United Nations Development Program.

More than 70 experts and scholars from China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Australia, France, Singapore, South Korea, India, Sweden, Denmark, Malaysia, Japan and other countries attended this forum.

Wang Yongqing, vice-chairman of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, pointed out China's AI governance adheres to a people-centered approach, which always promotes people's well-being, encourages technological innovation, coordinates development and security and upholds the concept of equality and justice. This approach is in line with the spirit of the United Nations and G20, which aims to promote the comprehensive development of individuals and sustainable development across the economy, society, and environment.

Wang emphasized the Chinese government supported and encouraged finding solutions to global digital governance problems based on consultation, contribution and shared benefits, with all countries working together to create an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory digital development environment. International society must collaborate when faced with risks and challenges accompanying the development of AI so as to continuously improve the level of AI global governance.

Qiu Yong, president of Tsinghua University, said while improving social productivity and empowering modern governance, AI also posed new challenges to public security, privacy, responsibility, ethics and the digital divide. Universities not only need to make breakthroughs on fundamental AI basic theories and frontier technologies, they also need to carry on the vision of AI for good and develop honest AI values and ethics. It is the international community's responsibility to establish a science-based international AI governance system.

Beate Trankmann, representative of the United Nations Development Program in China, said AI has played an important role in fighting COVID-19 and climate change. However, human biases can also find their way into AI technologies and potentially perpetuate prejudice and discrimination. As the application of AI becomes more and more omnipresent across the world, international cooperation will be essential to build consensus on common approaches to AI governance that are ethical and fair.

Li Meng, vice-minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology, stressed the governance of AI in the future should be agile so as to balance AI development with safety and security. It should also be adaptive and inclusive, and it should be sustainable in order to achieve intelligent and green development at the same time.

Xu Xiaolan, vice-minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, stated in the future, the IIT would cooperate with relevant groups on the sustainable and sound development of AI and the creation of inclusive AI governance norms to open a new landscape of international cooperation. The IIT is ready to contribute more Chinese wisdom to the establishment of international AI governance institutions and generate more practical results for international scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation.

Ma Shengkun, deputy director-general of the Department of Arms Control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said China attaches great importance to the security of AI governance, and the Chinese government has coordinated and advanced the development and risk control of AI technology with a responsible attitude. China has also issued ethical principles and norms for researchers and clarified supervision mechanisms and requirements in a timely manner.

Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, officer-in-charge of the UN Office of Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology, emphasized the world could and must work together to create inclusive, responsive and effective global cooperation structures that can meet the challenges posed by AI.

Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, a Turing Award winner and chair of the Institute for AI International Governance of Tsinghua University, remarked powerful algorithms, computing power and privacy protection should be the new research direction for AI theories, and the establishment of a balanced and inclusive AI governance system would unlock greater potential and ensure stronger security of AI.

After the opening ceremony hosted by Yang Bin, vice-president and provost of Tsinghua University, the forum held the main plenary session titled "How to build a Balanced and Inclusive AI Governance Framework" in which experts, including Xue Lan, dean of I-AIIG and Schwarzman College; Gong Ke, president of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations; Xu Haoliang, UN assistant secretary-general and UNDP director of Bureau for Policy and Program Support; Wendell Wallach, Uehiro/Carnegie senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and academic member of I-AIIG and Su Jun, dean of the Institute Of Intelligence Society Governance, delivered keynote speeches.

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