G7 leaders agree on the need to govern AI amid growing concern on use of technology

Cabinet-level discussions will centre on the issue, with results presented by the end of the year

President of the Comoros Azali Assoumani, left, US President Joe Biden, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Hiroshima. AFP
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G7 leaders have agreed on the need to govern generative artificial intelligence amid growing concerns over the impact of sophisticated technology on humans and the labour market.

The leaders, during a meeting in Hiroshima, agreed to hold cabinet-level discussions on the issue and present the results by the end of the year, according to news agencies.

"We recognise the need to immediately take stock of the opportunities and challenges of generative AI, which is increasingly prominent across countries and sectors," a G7 statement said.

"We task relevant ministers to establish the Hiroshima AI process, through a G7 working group, in an inclusive manner... for discussions on generative AI by the end of this year," it said.

"These discussions could include topics such as governance, safeguard of intellectual property rights including copyrights, promotion of transparency, response to foreign information manipulation, including disinformation, and responsible utilisation of these technologies."

The latest move comes as the impact of artificial intelligence grows around the world.

The UAE, this week, has called for a global coalition to regulate the development and use of artificial intelligence, comparing the oversight needed to how nation states are monitored for nuclear arms proliferation.

Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, said the world urgently needs to come together to police AI.

“If a country starts to enrich uranium to weapons grade, whether they disclose or not, the world knows,” he told The National's Connectivity Forum.

“There are certain parameters, certain systems, certain mechanisms that allow us to know 'OK, we are concerned that this country is moving towards weapons-grade uranium'.

“We need to have the same level of rigour, the same level of oversight on AI.”

On Tuesday, Sam Altman, chief executive of OpenAI – the start-up behind ChatGPT – also told a US Senate panel that regulating artificial intelligence was “critical”.

UAE minister calls for global coalition to regulate artificial intelligence

UAE minister calls for global coalition to regulate artificial intelligence

He urged Congress to impose new rules on Big Tech, despite deep political divisions that for years have blocked legislation aimed at regulating the internet.

Some critics fear the technology will exacerbate societal harms, among them prejudice and misinformation, while others warn AI could end humanity itself. The latest technology is also expected to impact the labour market with companies planning to replace workers with AI tools to reduce costs.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said regulatory guardrails are needed to guarantee the ambitious promises made by supporters of artificial intelligence can be realised while potential risks to society are reduced.

“If it's used safely, if it's used securely, obviously there are benefits from artificial intelligence for growing our economy, for transforming our society, improving public services,” Mr Sunak said.

“But, as I say, that has to be done safely and securely, and with guardrails in place, and that has been our regulatory approach.”

The UK-based telecoms company BT Group this week said it will cut up to 55,000 jobs by the end of the decade as part of plans to shift to AI and automated services.

International Business Machines, better known as IBM also expects to pause hiring for roles it thinks could be replaced with artificial intelligence in the coming years, its chief executive Arvind Krishna has said.

Hiring in back-office functions – such as human resources – will be suspended or slowed, Mr Krishna said earlier this month to Bloomberg.

Some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names, including Twitter’s owner Elon Musk, signed an open letter calling for a pause on AI development amid concerns that it could pose risks to humanity.

Updated: May 20, 2023, 10:07 AM