In an effort to combat the growing threat of AI-generated deepfakes, fake news and misinformation, the United Nations is spearheading the development of voluntary guidelines for the responsible use of artificial intelligence. The organization has recognized the significant impact of AI-generated media on information integrity, particularly on social media platforms.
In a recent report published on June 12, the United Nations highlighted the intensified risk of disinformation online due to rapid advancements in technology, specifically pointing out the emergence of generative artificial intelligence and its role in creating convincing deepfakes. The report emphasized that false information and hate speech generated by AI are being presented to users as fact, leading to serious consequences. Just last month, the S&P 500 experienced a brief dip in response to an AI-generated image and a fabricated news report about an explosion near the Pentagon.
In response to these alarming developments, the United Nations called upon stakeholders in the AI community to take immediate action to address the spread of false information. The organization stressed the urgency of the situation and emphasized the need for responsible use of AI technology. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking at a press conference on June 12, described the alarm bells surrounding generative AI as “deafening” and attributed the loudest concerns to the developers who designed it. Guterres announced that the report will serve as the foundation for a U.N. Code of Conduct for Information Integrity on Digital Platforms, which is currently being developed and will be unveiled at the Summit of the Future, a conference scheduled for late September 2024 that aims to facilitate inter-governmental discussions on various pressing issues.
Guterres explained that the Code of Conduct will consist of a set of principles that the United Nations hopes governments, digital platforms, and other stakeholders will voluntarily adopt. The goal is to establish guidelines that promote responsible AI usage and mitigate the risks associated with AI-generated fake news.
Meanwhile, on June 13, former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair and Conservative Party politician William Hague released a separate report on AI. The duo suggested that the governments of the U.K., the United States, and other allies should collaborate to advocate for a new UN framework that focuses on implementing urgent safeguards against the negative impacts of AI. Blair and Hague emphasized that the arrival of AI presents one of the most significant policy challenges ever faced due to its unpredictable development and ever-increasing power. They also noted that the existing approaches and channels employed by governments are ill-suited to effectively address the challenges posed by this transformative technology.
As the United Nations takes the lead in addressing the urgent need for guidelines on AI-generated fake news, the global community faces a critical juncture. The responsible and ethical use of AI technology is crucial to ensure the preservation of information integrity and the protection of societies from the harmful effects of AI-generated misinformation. The voluntary guidelines set forth by the United Nations, alongside the proposed UN framework advocated by Blair and Hague, offer hope for establishing a robust and coordinated global response to this pressing issue. The upcoming Summit of the Future will serve as a platform for governments and stakeholders to engage in meaningful discussions and devise strategies that safeguard the integrity of information in the digital age.