Digital divide amongst ‘greatest challenges of our era’–UN


International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin addresses media during a press conference focused on the 2024 priorities at the United Nations Office in Geneva, on March 7, 2024. (AFP)
Worldwide Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-Basic Doreen Bogdan-Martin addresses media throughout a press convention centered on the 2024 priorities on the United Nations Workplace in Geneva, on March 7, 2024. (AFP)

GENEVA, Switzerland–The UN telecoms company chief warned Thursday of the toll synthetic intelligence might tackle societies, however mentioned her biggest concern stays the massive variety of individuals with out entry to digital applied sciences.

The Worldwide Telecommunications Union (ITU) estimates that round 2.6 billion individuals worldwide stay offline and unable to entry the advantages of digital know-how.

“They’ve by no means, ever linked to the web,” company chief Doreen Bogdan-Martin instructed reporters in Geneva.

That, she mentioned, is “what retains me up at night time … as a result of should you’re not a part of the digital world, then you definitely’re not a part of the AI world”.

“That is actually one of many greatest challenges of our era.”

The United Nations is aiming to boost $100 billion by 2026 in the direction of bridging the worldwide digitalization hole.

Bogdan-Martin estimated although that greater than 4 occasions that quantity was wanted to actually bridge the divide.

The yawning hole shall be felt ever extra acutely with the unfold of quickly evolving generative AI know-how, the UN official mentioned.

Bogdan-Martin pointed to the numerous methods AI might rework societies, together with boosting the battle towards local weather change and poverty, whereas bettering training and well being care.

However whereas there are “unbelievable alternatives”, she warned that “there are dangers, and we want to have the ability to handle and mitigate the dangers”.

In a busy yr of high-stake elections around the globe, she cautioned that “rising applied sciences like synthetic intelligence can be utilized to erode belief in our elections, in our establishments”.

It will possibly additionally, she mentioned, “threaten our jobs, our privateness, and I believe additionally our very future.”

Talking a day earlier than Worldwide Ladies’s Day, she highlighted the “enormous” gender bias discovered within the algorithms utilized by the world’s hottest AI instruments.

A research revealed Thursday by the UN cultural company UNESCO discovered that algorithms utilized by OpenAI and Meta confirmed “unequivocal proof of prejudice towards girls”.

Bogdan-Martin, the primary girl to function ITU secretary-general within the group’s almost 160-year historical past, mentioned a serious downside was that “girls are much less linked (and) girls are much less represented on this sector.”

Ladies make up “a disproportionate” share of the offline inhabitants and “there aren’t sufficient girls in STEM (science, know-how, engineering, and math), there aren’t sufficient girls in AI, there aren’t sufficient girls in quantum, not sufficient girls in area.”

“With regards to the information, the algorithms, we have to have extra girls on the desk.”

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Specifically, she mentioned, “we have to get extra girls in AI, like, now”.