The following statement was issued by 22 members of the Aspen Ministers Forum on November 1, 2023.
Much has been written and debated on the short and long-term risks of the increasing capabilities of artificial intelligence. As the technologies evolve and permeate all aspects of society, we feel it is important to move quickly to ensure international cooperation on what will be one of the most important policy challenges of our time.
We need to direct global efforts on AI to understand and prevent unintended side effects of increasingly powerful AI systems, limit negative impacts on people’s day-to-day lives, and maximize the benefits to humanity.
As former foreign ministers, we are by no means experts on Artificial Intelligence, but we deeply understand how important it is to communicate and collaborate globally for issues as complicated and critical to the future of our societies and the international order.
AI is advancing rapidly and people using AI are already having a substantial influence, positive and negative, on society, the economy, the environment, and international affairs.
Already identified risks include:
- Destabilization of societies and democratic processes through targeted, massive, and personalized disinformation;
- Infringements on human rights with increasing inequality and discrimination;
- Disruption of labor markets through greater automation;
- Empowerment of rogue actors and states through the creation of industrial-scale lethal autonomous weapons that constitute a new class of weapons of mass destruction.
We reject the view that we have to choose between benefits and safety; in fact, as the history of nuclear power shows, benefits accrue only if there is safety.
The risks outlined above are, therefore, the urgent responsibilities of governments, individually and collectively:
- Structural: Create an international agency and national agencies to increase capacity and oversight in AI governance; create an international organization to fund, coordinate, and conduct research on AI safety, including research in support of regulatory measures. We applaud UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ recent launch of the High-Level Multistakeholder Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence and look forward to their contributions in this space.
- Human rights: AI-generated disinformation threatens the fundamental rights of freedom of thought and information integrity and must be addressed through a concerted effort by governments and platforms, beginning with protection and promotion of the right to know if one is interacting with a person or a machine. For nations to protect themselves from foreign influence campaigns, platform transparency is essential.
- Legal action: Develop effective national regulatory regimes, coordinated internationally with clear prohibited behaviors (“red lines”), and requirements that developers provide hard evidence to regulators that their systems will not exhibit such behaviors; furthermore, systems that do must be subject to immediate termination.
- Security implications: Begin good-faith negotiations on a legally binding instrument governing security-related applications of AI, including military weaponry and cyber security.
In conclusion, recognizing the challenges this moment in history brings, we would like to emphasize that this is not a time to be divided. This is a time to come together to take creative collective and ambitious actions. These risks should be neither political nor geopolitical footballs. The Aspen Ministers’ Forum is ready to contribute to this objective by actively reaching out to our national governments, briefing UN, EU, AU, and other regional organization leaders, continuing to study this issue, and contribute on this critical issue wherever we can.
Lloyd Axworthy (Canada)
María Eugenia Brizuela de Ávila (El Salvador)
Ali Babacan (Turkey)
Mohamed Benaïssa (Morocco)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (United States)
Erik Derycke (Belgium)
Alexander Downer (Australia)
Jan Eliasson (Sweden)
Joschka Fischer (Germany)
Monica Juma (Kenya)
Marina Kaljurand (Estonia)
Kyung-wha Kang (South Korea)
Susana Malcorra (Argentina)
Claudia Ruiz Massieu (Mexico)
Don McKinnon (New Zealand)
Daniel Mitov (Bulgaria)
Federica Mogherini (Italy)
Marwan Muasher (Jordan)
George Papandreou (Greece)
Malcolm Rifkind (UK)
Knut Vollebaek (Norway)
Margot Wallström (Sweden)