UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a warning on Tuesday about the potential risks posed by artificial intelligence (AI) to global peace and security. Speaking at the first UN Security Council meeting on the topic, Guterres called on all member states to establish safeguards and regulations to control the technology.
Guterres acknowledged that AI would impact every aspect of human life and emphasized the immense potential it holds, both for good and for harm on a large scale. While AI has the capacity to alleviate poverty and advance medical breakthroughs, it also carries the potential for serious consequences that could jeopardize global peace and security.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, in his role as the current president of the Security Council, acknowledged that AI would greatly influence the council’s work and could either enhance or disrupt global strategic stability. He highlighted the challenges it presents to traditional notions of defense and deterrence, raising ethical concerns regarding accountability for life-or-death decisions made on the battlefield. Cleverly further revealed that the United Kingdom would host an AI summit later in the year.
Guterres called upon member states to establish a legally binding agreement by the end of 2026 to prohibit the use of lethal autonomous weapons systems. While AI can be employed to identify patterns of violence and monitor ceasefires, he cautioned against its potential exploitation by terrorists or governments with malicious intent, which could lead to catastrophic loss of life and widespread destruction.
The Secretary-General also expressed concerns about the risks posed by malfunctioning AI, particularly when integrated with nuclear weapons systems or biotechnology. He stressed the critical importance of maintaining human agency and control over such technologies, urging consensus on this principle.
Guterres called for the creation of a working group to develop options for global AI governance by the end of the year. He reiterated his support for a dedicated United Nations entity that would facilitate efforts to regulate and govern the use of AI, drawing inspiration from successful models like the International Atomic Energy Agency or the International Civil Aviation Organization.