ALLAI co-founder Virginia Dignum appointed to UN Advisory Body on AI

Amsterdam, October 23, 2023, 18:35 CET

Today, the United Nations Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology (OSET) presented the members of the UN High Level Advisory Body on AI (HLAB on AI). ALLAI is honoured and proud that its co-founder and board member Prof. Virginia Dignum was selected to join his Body. The Body consists of 38 experts in relevant disciplines from around the world and will advise the UN Secretary-General and Member States on achieving globally coordinated AI governance, that is aligned with human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.

AI summers and winters

“I am very honoured to have been selected for this Body”, says Virginia Dignum. “Having worked in the field for over 40 years, I have seen many AI summers and winters. But right now, AI is like a car with no breaks, being driven by someone without a driver’s licence, on a road with no signs or traffic lights. This is a situation that we should not accept.”

The UN High Level Advisory Body on AI is the latest in a range of regional and institutional initiatives aimed at directing AI for the benefit of society while addressing its challenges and risks. “It is good that the UN aims for global AI governance”, says Virginia. “Not only because of the recent developments in LLM’s and generative AI, but also because we need to tie together the many regional initiatives and governance instruments already (being) developed. I am keen on contributing to a multi-stakeholder, networked approach that leverages existing work and bridges diverse perspectives. I am also keen on having a balanced debate on AI’s opportunities and challenges, without fear mongering or extreme down-playing.”

Global AI Governance

The Body’s immediate tasks include building a global scientific consensus on AI’s risks and challenges, how to harness AI for the Sustainable Development Goals, and how to strengthen international cooperation on AI governance. The Advisory Body will look at various models of governance such as a new agency on AI and an IPCC-like model.

“I am very proud and humbled that my co-founder and board member Virginia Dignum was selected to sit on this important Body, says Catelijne Muller, ALLAI President and co-founder. “Not only is Virginia an authority in field of AI, but she was also one of the first AI scientists to focus on the ethical and societal implications of AI. Her work at Umeå University and with ALLAI will bring extraordinary expertise, insights, and value to the UN. And she is averse to unfounded visions of the future, so she will bring a strong and necessary sense of reason to the often very polarized debate surrounding AI.”

UN Summit of the Future

The UN AI Advisory Body will start its work immediately and is expected to present its interim recommendations by the end of this year. A final report is expected mid 2024, paving the way for UN Member States to adopt a Global Digital Compact at the UN Summit of the Future in September 2024.

Virginia Dignum & Catelijne Muller

Press inquiries: