Promising future, responsible challenges of Generative AI
The third webinar organised by UNESCO’s Ibero-American Business Council on Artificial Intelligence and Ethics held recently. In this panel discussion, three experts, Joaquina Salado from Telefónica, Daniel Klutzz from Microsoft and Angel Melguizo, shed light on the potential of Generative AI and the need for responsible practices to harness its benefits.
Joaquina Salado from Telefónica emphasised that Generative AI is a specific type of Artificial Intelligence designed to create diverse content, including text, images, audio, video, and code. This innovation complements existing AI toolkits, accelerating digital transformation in companies and countries.
Joaquina stressed that Generative AI could drive innovation, enhance efficiency, and foster competitiveness in both private and public sectors. She urged organisations to explore use cases that could capitalise on Generative AI’s potential in marketing, business processes optimisation, customer service, data analytics, and software development.
Additionally, she emphasised the importance of incorporating a responsible and ethical approach to AI governance, which involves assessing potential risks and applying AI Ethics Principles through a governance model. Telefónica is actively working on various initiatives to promote responsible AI use, including providing employee skills training and contributing to society’s digital literacy through its Foundation’s programmes.
Daniel Klutzz from Microsoft pointed out that while responsible AI has long been a priority for the company, the advent of Generative AI has brought new opportunities for democratising AI technologies. Generative AI’s applications can range from inbox summarisation to voice recognition, which then needs comprehensive measures to mitigate associated risks. Understanding customers’ usage patterns, evaluating risks across the technology stack, and utilising contractual terms and technical controls are critical considerations for Microsoft. The company is committed to a responsible AI journey that involves continuous learning through engagement with various stakeholders, including civil society, academia, private sectors, and the general public.
Angel Melguizo from UNESCO described the current era as the Age of Artificial Intelligence, where AI emerges as a general-purpose technology with vast potential to enrich and ease our lives. McKinsey’s estimates indicated that Generative AI could contribute trillions of dollars to the global economy yearly, comparable to the GDP of entire nations.
Melguizo emphasised that Latin America, in particular, benefits significantly from AI, as it presents an opportunity to develop new economic engines. However, Melguizo also cautioned that AI could exacerbate social challenges in its current form. Issues like limited connectivity, market concentration, and biased algorithms can adversely affect vulnerable communities and even democracies. He stressed that both the private sector and organisations like UNESCO and OECD have a shared responsibility to implement ethical principles and diverse practices within the AI landscape.
UNESCO’s previous question of “Who is in charge here? Who should be? And what should we do?” underlines the private sector has profound responsibility in leveraging AI tools and principles. The UNESCO Ibero-American Business Council has been a platform for exchanging best practices and fostering collaboration towards a shared goal of responsible AI implementation.
Key discussion points:
Opportunities of Generative AI: The panelists discussed the potential of Generative AI in addressing pressing global challenges and contributing to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
They emphasised its role in improving people’s lives and driving positive change.
Mitigating Risks: The audience questioned how mechanisms for risk mitigation could be effectively translated into actionable guidelines for governments and individuals. The speakers highlighted the importance of ethical governance and transparency.
Private Sector’s Role: The webinar explored how the private sector employs Generative AI to enhance the quality of life and progress toward SDGs. Responsible AI practices play a vital role in ensuring positive societal impact.
In conclusion, the panelists highlighted the transformative potential of Generative AI in various domains. It has the power to reshape industries and societies, but its responsible and ethical application is essential to mitigate potential risks and ensure that AI benefits all members of society.
Collaborative efforts between the private sector, governments, and organisations like UNESCO will be crucial in shaping the future of AI, making it a driving force for positive change and equitable progress.