UNITAR Hosts Seminar on Potential Applications of Artificial Intelligence

Monday, 12 February 2018

The United Nations Office of Information and Communication Technology (OICT) and United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) hosted a morning seminar that introduced attendees to the potential applications of artificial intelligence as well as current limitations of this rapidly evolving technology.

The first part of the session was led by Georgetown University Fellow Ms. Cara LaPointe, who gave a broader introduction to artificial intelligence and discussed the many current and future applications o

f this technology, and its continued impact on society. Using examples from everyday uses including mapping applications an

d real-estate aggregators, Ms. LaPointe highlighted the many ways that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning help improve our daily lives in countless ways. The transformative nature of AI can be seen across multiple sectors, from health and finance to government and transportation, with

 countless more applications in the near f

uture. The key takeaway from the presentation being that, while this new technology has huge potential, it must be designed thoughtfully to help mitigate potential negative consequences which often accompany new technologies.

The second part of the session was led by Head of Artificial Intelligence of North America at Accenture Mr. Sharad Sachdev, who spoke in more detail about potential applications in the medical and industrial sectors, with a focus on the data ownership and algorithm usage rights in developing these technologies. Mr. Sachdev focused on the many benefits of the open-source nature of algorithm usage rights, which makes it easy to apply the same algorithms to different data at very little cost, creating a level playing field for governments and firms both large and small. He

 also noted the challenges associated with rapid AI development, most importantly the slow adoption of universal regulations that prevent abuse and discrimination, as well as addressing privacy concerns.

This seminar was the

 first in a series of collaborations between OICT and UNITAR that focus on emerging technologies and potential applications within the United Nations and in achieving the SDGs.