United Nations Envoy on Technology: “With New Technologies Our World Will Be Shaped in Ways We Can’t Even Imagine.”

At CES 2024 in Las Vegas in January, Amandeep Singh Gill, the United Nations Envoy on Technology, who reports directly to the UN Secretary-General, discusses the importance of technology governance as we transition from the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Age. On behalf of the Human Security For All (HS4A) campaign, he spoke with Ketan Patel of Force For Good, a London-based organization that believes that capital, finance and tech can achieve the goals of the 17 SGD’s if approached correctly.

Gill explained that the UN is focused on initiatives such as the Global Digital Compact and having international conversations on AI governance to address the digital divide and harness technology’s opportunities for all humanity. Gill emphasized the need to address institutional and human capacity deficits and transform medieval institutions to adapt to the future of work brought about by new technologies.

He also touches on the urgent need to address the digital divide and its implications for productivity, growth, and human security, including the connectivity, device, and data access divide, as well as the emerging AI divide. He emphasized collaboration and investment in human and technological resources to find solutions and engages with technology company leaders to advocate for action. He further discusses the formation of an AI advisory body at the United Nations with multi-stakeholder composition to craft policy recommendations on AI, acknowledging the need to change incentive structures for easier alignment with international institutions. 

Gill and Patel also discuss the comparison of AI and nuclear weapons, recognizing the distinction in existential risk and emphasizing the responsibilities of scientists, technologists, and governments to put regulations in place to mitigate potential risks and societal harm. Gill emphasized the importance of international collaboration to control the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction technologies and to create a superior world using digital technologies.

He believes digital technologies can act as an important accelerator but stressed the need for investments in education, health, economic systems, and innovation systems to ensure that everyone benefits. He highlights collaborative initiatives between governments, academia, and civil society in delivering digital services and the importance of collaboration between the private sector and governments to drive sustainable initiatives such as the green and circular economies.

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