15 March 2024

How to Govern AI? A Talk with the UNSG's High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence

On 13 March 2024, the Geneva Graduate Institute hosted an exchange with the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Advisory Body on AI Governance on the critical matter of artificial intelligence, its impact and governance. The event was co-organised with the Tech Hub and the Geneva Policy Outlook.

[T]echnology is neither natural nor neutral – it is framed and it frames in turn. Technology reveals, expresses, and reflects the social, economic, political, geopolitical but also ethical conditions of a particular time in the history of humanity. In a circular and dynamic kind of matter, it in turn also shapes and transforms those social, economic, political, geopolitical and even ethical conditions.

Marie-Laure Salles, Director of the Geneva Graduate Institute


Artificial Intelligence (AI), once a distant concept, now shapes our world in ways we could not have imagined. From groundbreaking scientific discoveries to streamlining everyday tasks, AI holds immense potential for positive change. However, alongside its promises, AI brings risks. Biases can be reinforced, surveillance expanded, and accountability blurred in automated decision-making processes. The rapid evolution of AI technology challenges traditional regulatory frameworks, raising concerns about transparency and ethics. How can we govern AI to maximise its benefits for humanity and minimise harms?

The Geneva Graduate Institute hosted an exchange with the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Advisory Body on AI Governance to discuss these critical matters on governing artificial intelligence. Jérôme Duberry, Managing Director of the Tech Hub, and Achim Wennmann, Director for Strategic Partnerships at the Geneva Graduate Institute, co-moderated the panel with Carme Artigas, Co-Chair of the UNSGs High Level Advisory Body on AI and former Secretary of State for Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence of Spain; Paolo Benanti, Third Order Regular Franciscan and Lecturer at the Pontifical Gregorian University; Sharad Sharma, Co-founder iSPIRT Foundation; and Linghan Zhang, Professor at the Institute of Data Law at China University of Political Science and Law.

The talk was part of the UNSG’s AI Advisory Body’s visit to Geneva and the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology and proud alumnus of the Institute, Amandeep Singh Gill, was also in attendance and said:

An important part of AI governance is going to be sectoral, so this visit has allowed us to appreciate those governance challenges. We have done some work internally over the past two days, looking at how to translate some of the ideas in the interim report on functions, these essential functions of international governance that can be performed at the national level or by the industry. So how to translate those functions into institutional forms? [...] You can’t solve this problem with the mindsets, the frameworks of yesterday. [To quote E.O. Wilson], you have these paralytic minds, mediaeval institutions, and godlike technologies. So [with these] godlike technologies, we can’t deal with our existing ways, but we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, so how do we build on what’s already there and then renew our mindsets with fresher approaches?”

He also stated that we need to “renew our vows with multilateralism” to face the future of AI.

The Advisory Body’s “Interim Report: Governing AI for Humanity” was released in December 2023, and the final report will be published ahead of the Summit of the Future in September 2024.

We invite you to read the article by Roxana Radu, alumna and Associate Professor of Digital Technologies and Public Policy at the University of Oxford, exploring the intricacies of AI governance in the last edition of the Geneva Policy Outlook.



How to govern AI? Meet with the UNSG's High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence