Agreement to establish the International Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI), as a Category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO in Ljubljana, Slovenia
The impact and potential consequences of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are proving to be crucial for humanity. As a general-purpose technology, AI has the potential to reshape societies, the economy and politics. Aggressive deployment of AI are raising concerns across the globe as it is rapidly transforming different spheres of human agency, and pushing humanity in a state of moral flux and raising many ethical questions. In order to better appreciate and counter challenges of AI, the Government of Slovenia proposed to establish an International Center on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI), as a Category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO in Ljubljana.
The Agreement was signed on distance by Minister of Education, Science and Sport and Deputy Prime Minister Dr Jernej Pikalo and UNESCO’s Assistant Director Dr. Moez Chakchouk as the representative of the Director General. During the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Pikalo expressed his confidence in the Government’s partnership with UNESCO and noted “This agreement between UNESCO and the Government of Slovenia illustrates a strong foundation for the future activities of IRCAI and represents a direct response to the challenges many member states are faced with in view of emerging AI technologies. “ AI can help to pave the way for new opportunities for sustainable development, and help in constructing knowledge societies. This Center denotes Government of Slovenia and UNESCO’s collective vision to better understand AI’s role for humanity”.
The establishment of IRCAI was debated during UNESCO’s Executive Board at its 206th session and was subsequently approved during the 40th session of the UNESCO’s General Conference, which validated the proposal and authorized the Director-General to sign an agreement between UNESCO and the Government of Slovenia concerning the establishment and operation of the Centre.
The Center will not only maximize the benefits of AI to achieve SDGs, but also expedite a multi-stakeholder mechanism to put AI under the litmus test of ethical, legal, openness and policy challenges. The Centre would add a unique focus and further expertise on AI to UNESCO’s programs, especially to leverage the power and capability of AI across various areas of competence by generating relevant statistics on AI, AI-related applications and associated technological innovations.
Recently launched publication “Steering AI and Advanced ICTs for Knowledge Societies” engages in the analysis and reflection of AI and addresses the challenges and opportunities of AI from a human rights, openness, inclusive access and multistakeholder perspective and advocates for steering clear of both technological utopianism, and dystopian thinking while giving attention to the role of human agency and human-centered values in the development of AI.
More information about UNESCO’s work on human centered AI is available at https://en.unesco.org/artificial-intelligence.
For more information, please contact Bhanu Neupane, e-mail: b.neupane(at)unesco.org