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UN General Assembly: UK to support developing nations on AI

James Cleverly AI development UN Image credit: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has outlined a plan to help developing nations improve skills and innovation in AI as part of a wider United Nations initiative.

Cleverly, speaking at the UN General Assembly on Monday, is expected to call on international partners to collaborate in the AI for Development programme.

It is being launched in partnership with Canada’s International Development Research Centre and will initially focus on Africa, before expanding to other developing countries.

Separately, the UK is making more than £1m available to use AI to prevent humanitarian crises, under an initiative called the Complex Risk Analytics Fund.

“The opportunity of AI is immense. It has already been shown to speed up drug discovery, help develop new treatments for common diseases, and predict food insecurity — to name only a few uses,” Cleverly said.

“The UK, alongside our allies and partners, is making sure that the fulfilment of this enormous potential is shared globally.”

Cleverly, who is representing the UK at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, is expected to meet with other international leaders – including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken – on the margins of the event.

Julie Delahanty, president of the International Development Research Centre, said: “The AI for Development programme will build on existing partnerships, leveraging AI’s capacity to reduce inequalities, address poverty, improve food systems, confront the challenges of climate change and make education more inclusive, while also mitigating risks.”

The US, Netherlands, European Commission and Finland have also invested in the United Nations’ Complex Risk Analytics Fund.

It’s the UK government’s latest move to play a leading role on all things AI-related. In November, it is hosting the AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park.

Early this month, the government laid out its core objectives from the event. However, there is still uncertainty over the final guest list, including whether China has been invited to the full event.