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AI oversight initiative for the EU is designed by UNESCO and the Netherlands.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in collaboration with the Dutch government, has initiated an ambitious project aimed at overseeing the ethical dimensions of artificial intelligence (AI) within the broader European Union (EU) domain.

On October 5th, the Dutch Authority for Digital Infrastructure, in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), formally launched the “Supervising AI by Competent Authorities” project. This initiative is dedicated to collecting comprehensive data regarding how European nations manage and regulate AI.

Funding for this endeavor is being provided through the European Commission’s Technical Support Instrument (TSI), and the insights gleaned from this project will culminate in a compendium of “best practice” recommendations.

Gabriela Ramos, the Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO, emphasized that this discourse transcends mere technological matters; it delves into the very fabric of our society. She stated, “We are deliberating on the type of world we aspire to inhabit. To shape the trajectory of AI’s technological evolution, we must establish robust governance frameworks firmly anchored in the ethical and moral values that are dear to us all.”

In addition to facilitating the formulation of best practices, the data amassed through this endeavor will be invaluable in designing future training sessions geared toward enhancing “institutional capacity” in this domain.

It’s worth noting that UNESCO has already played a pivotal role in crafting ethical guidelines for AI back in November 2021, guidelines that have been unanimously adopted by all its member states.

These initiatives from UNESCO come in the wake of the European Union’s passage of the AI Act in parliament in June 2023. The AI Act constitutes a comprehensive set of regulations governing AI development within the EU. The proposal for this legislation was put forth by the European Commission in April, and following a resounding endorsement by parliament, member states are now engaged in negotiations with parliament to finalize the specifics.

Subsequent to the passage of the AI Act in parliament, the EU has also introduced an initiative tailored to AI startups in the region, expediting their access to state-of-the-art supercomputing resources.

Meanwhile, individual European nations have been contemplating their own strategies for regulating and advancing AI. Spain, for instance, unveiled plans on August 25th for establishing a local agency dedicated to AI regulation and a national strategy aimed at ensuring that AI development within the country is “inclusive, sustainable, and citizen-centric.”

On the other hand, Germany finds itself amid a fragmented landscape of differing viewpoints among politicians and digital experts regarding the optimal approach to managing and implementing this transformative technology.

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