June 16, 2019
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Experts provide recommendations to UN on how to manage digital future

By Mario Villar

United Nations, Jun 10 (efe-epa).- How should new technologies be regulated? How can it be ensured that their benefits will get to everyone? How to prevent the dangers they pose? These were some of the complicated questions that United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last year put before a "high-level panel" of experts and knowledgeable leaders in various fields.

He received their responses on Monday in a 40-page report that, above all, defends the need for cooperation in this new interconnected world.

The group, co-headed by Melinda Gates - co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - and by Alababa founder Jack Ma called for strengthening cooperation among governments, companies, academicians and civil society so that the opportunities provided by technology result in "more prosperity, more opportunity and more trust" for everyone.

That cooperation should be based on humanity's common values, including inclusiveness, respect, placing human beings at the center of things, human rights, international law, transparency and sustainability, the report adds.

During periods of rapid changes and uncertainty, like our present age, these shared values should provide the common light that guides us, the report stated.

Guterres formed the 20-person panel in July 2018 and tasked it with identifying policy, research and information gaps in the current state of technology and making proposals to address them.

The secretary-general also asked the members of the panel to research ways that digital cooperation could contribute to the achievement of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, which include everything from supporting small and micro-businesses to empowering women and young people in developing countries.

Among the recommendations of the panel were the following:

-Ensuring that every adult has affordable access to digital networks and digitally enabled financial and health services by 2030.

-Adopting policies to support digital inclusion and equality for women and marginalized groups.

-Establishing regional and global "digital help desks" to help governments, civil society and the private sector manage the impacts of digital technologies.

-The facilitation by the UN secretary-general of a consultation process to develop updated mechanisms for global digital cooperation and using the options proposed by the Panel as a starting point; then marking the UN's 75th anniversary in 2020 with a "Global Commitment for Digital Cooperation."

Other recommendations included ensuring that the social networks work with government authorities, civil organizations and experts on human rights to respond to concerns about privacy and hate speech.

Another recommendation was to ensure that artificial intelligence programs are designed so that their decisions can be explained and humans are responsible for their use, saying that "life and death" decisions cannot be delegated to machines.

Guterres expressed his appreciation of the report, saying that it is a "fantastic instrument" with which to begin a very serious conversation all over the world, as well as presenting a series of specific measures that can be implemented.

In reaching its conclusions, the panel consulted with thousands of individuals from 104 countries, 80 international organizations, 203 private sector firms, 125 civil society organizations, 33 technical organizations and 188 think tanks and academic institutions, and its members visited tech nubs in China, India, Israel, Kenya and Silicon Valley, along with participating in many other activities, forums, briefings and town hall meetings open to the public.

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