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United Nations Highlights Blockchain and AI in the ‘Panel on Digital Cooperation’


The United Nations has launched a “High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation”, which will include both men and women from the technology, science, policy and academia sectors, and will focus on recent developments in blockchain, AI, and other innovations. It will be co-chaired by UN Secretary General António Guterres, American philanthropist and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates, Ambassador Amandeep Gill and Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

A total of 20 members will work together to provide effective technological solutions while ensuring that the risks are kept at a minimum. Guterres said that technology is impacting economies and societies at an alarming rate – at the same time cyber crime is increasing worldwide. Since current cooperation among international organizations is not enough, the UN has had to step in to bridge the gap.

On the topic of blockchain technology, Gill said, “You cannot look at ‘web 3.0’ without looking at blockchain or without looking at AI (Artificial Intelligence). So, our hope is that through this discussion of these various digital domains, the business models, the opportunities and the risks and the unintended consequences in terms of human rights, in terms of privacy, in terms of subversion of democracy, we are able to come out with some common principles…of strengthening cooperation across borders.”

As per the mandate, the first meeting will be held in New York in September of this year, while the second meeting will take place in Switzerland in January 2019. Gill added that Geneva would serve as the perfect place since its home to many UN agencies with digital experts.

Last month, the UN Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) published a whitepaper that analyzed the use of blockchain technology in order to improve trading systems. While the organization highlighted the benefits of shifting to distributed ledger technology, it pointed out that it “does not solve the interoperability problem that UN/CEFACT standards have always supported.”