We cannot sleepwalk into a dystopian AI future.


António Guterres

May 31, 2024

In recent months we have seen lifechanging technological advances in the capabilities and use of artificial intelligence. At the same time, we are witnessing new, life-threatening risks as a result of AI – from the propagation of disinformation, to mass surveillance, to the prospect of lethal autonomous weapons.

All the while, AI systems are being deployed with little oversight or accountability.

We cannot sleepwalk into a dystopian future where the power of AI is controlled by a few people, or worse, by opaque algorithms beyond human understanding.

We need rules, safety, and universal guardrails.

How we act now will define our era.

September’s UN Summit of the Future represents an opportunity to build the foundations of global AI governance.

The independent Advisory Body I set up last year has identified clear priorities for inclusive, safe AI.

  • First – the creation of an International Scientific Panel on AI.
    Policy makers cannot navigate this uncharted territory alone. They must be guided by universal, undisputed, up-to-date knowledge.
  • Second – we need regular, structured dialogue on AI governance connecting existing initiatives at the national, regional and industry level.
    This will help to identify and replicate best practices across borders and sectors.
  • Third – the development of common AI ethics and standards.
    Algorithms must be designed to reduce bias, prevent discrimination, and uphold the fundamental rights and dignity of every person.
    Harmonizing standards – and regulations – is especially crucial for startups in developing countries.
  • Fourth – we need global financial commitments to support developing countries in building capacity – in particular computing power – and participating in AI governance.
    The digital divide cannot become the AI divide.
    By pooling resources and expertise, we can harness the power of AI to reduce inequalities, advance the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind.

The Global Digital Compact – to be adopted by Heads of States at the Summit of the Future in September – includes concrete proposals for international cooperation on AI.

AI can save lives, create jobs, foster progress. Let us build innovative and inclusive global governance tools for AI – with human rights, human dignity, and human agency front and centre.


  • António Guterres

    António Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Mr. Guterres was born in Lisbon in 1949 and graduated from the Instituto Superior Técnico with a degree in engineering. He is fluent in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish.

    View all posts