UK to pitch AI’s potential for international development at UN

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The UK is pitching its vision for leveraging AI’s potential to accelerate development in the world’s most impoverished nations during the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

The vision was set out by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and calls upon international partners to collaborate and coordinate their efforts in harnessing AI for development in Africa and making progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

As part of its efforts, the UK is launching the ‘AI for Development’ programme in partnership with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The primary focus of this initiative is to assist developing countries, primarily in Africa, in building local AI capabilities and fostering innovation.

The announcement coincides with the UK’s co-convening of an event on AI during the margins of the UN General Assembly. This high-level session – chaired by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken – will assemble governments, tech companies, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to explore how AI can expedite progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals aim to create a healthier, fairer, and more prosperous world by 2030.

In parallel with these efforts, the UK is committing £1 million in investment towards a pioneering fund known as the Complex Risk Analytics Fund (‘CRAF’d’). This fund, in collaboration with international partners, will harness the power of AI to prevent crises before they occur. Additionally, it will provide assistance during emergencies and support countries in their recovery towards sustainable development.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said:

“The opportunity of AI is immense. It has already been shown to speed up drug discovery, help develop new treatments for common diseases, and predict food insecurity—to name only a few uses.

The UK, alongside our allies and partners, is making sure that the fulfilment of this enormous potential is shared globally.

As AI continues to rapidly evolve, we need a global approach that seizes the opportunities that AI can bring to solving humanity’s shared challenges. The UK-hosted AI summit this November will be key to helping us achieve this.”

Julie Delahanty, President of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), expressed her satisfaction with the collaboration between IDRC and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

“IDRC is pleased to announce a new collaboration with FCDO, a key ally in tackling the most pressing development challenges,” said Delahanty.

“The AI for Development program will build on existing partnerships, leveraging AI’s capacity to reduce inequalities, address poverty, improve food systems, confront the challenges of climate change and make education more inclusive, while also mitigating risks.”

This announcement underscores the broader commitment of the UK to employ AI innovation to tackle global challenges, including the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In a separate event, scheduled for 1-2 November 2023, the UK will host the world’s first major AI Safety Summit at the historic Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire. This summit aims to garner international consensus on the urgent need for safety measures in cutting-edge AI technology.

See also: White House secures safety commitments from eight more AI companies

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