AI diplomacy is about the impact of AI on geopolitics, AI as a topic on the diplomatic agenda, and AI as a tool for diplomacy. On geopolitics, countries with advanced AI can exercise more military, economic, and societal power. AI is a topic on the diplomatic agenda where various agreements and treaties are negotiated. Lastly, AI is a practical tool in diplomacy used for decision support, drafting, translation, negotiation support, and analysis of trends and future developments.
Over the past few years, there has been significant progress in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), which is increasingly becoming part of our everyday lives (from intelligent digital personal assistants and smart home devices to autonomous vehicles, smart buildings and medical robots) and not just the stuff of science fiction.
These advances are expected to have implications in several policy areas (economic, societal, education, etc.), diplomacy, infrastructure and society in general, and governments, the technical community, and private sector actors worldwide are increasingly considering them.
DiploFoundation’s Artificial Intelligence Lab (AI Lab) is a multifaceted initiative that includes research and analysis on AI policy, capacity development in the field of AI and related areas, reports from main events and discussions on AI, analysis into the impact of AI on diplomacy, and much more.
Explore the research, activities, and events powered by Diplo’s AI Lab in this dedicated space, and get in touch with the AI Lab at email@example.com.
Greater scrutiny is necessary because AI will have a significant impact on international relations, such as putting new topics on the international agenda, challenging geostrategic relations, serving as a tool for diplomats and negotiators, and creating new opportunities and concerns about protecting human rights.
Policy implications of AI
The policy implications of AI are far‐reaching. While AI can potentially lead to economic growth, there are growing concerns over the significant disruptions it could bring to the labour market. Issues related to privacy, safety, and security have also been brought into focus, with calls being made for the development of standards that can help ensure that AI applications have minimum unintended consequences.
The GIP Digital Watch observatory, operated by DiploFoundation, provides insight on AI: Artificial intelligence: Policy implications, applications, and developments, providing regular updates on AI developments, as well as information about actors, events, and processes addressing the topic.
Economic and social
AI has significant potential to lead to economic growth. Used in production processes, AI systems bring automation, making processes smarter, faster, and cheaper, and therefore bringing savings and increased efficiency. Concerns are raised that automated systems will make some jobs obsolete, and lead to unemployment. There are, however, also opposing views, according to which AI advancements will generate new jobs, which will compensate for those lost, without affecting the overall employment rates.
Safety and security
AI applications in the physical world (e.g. in transportation) bring into focus issues related to human safety, and the need to design systems that can properly react to unforeseen situations, and have minimum unintended consequences. AI also has implications in the cybersecurity field. On the one hand, there are cybersecurity risks specific to AI systems, and on the other, AI is being applied to cybersecurity, from spam filtering to detecting serious cybersecurity vulnerabilities and address cyber-threats.
Privacy and data protection
AI systems work with enormous amounts of data, and this raises concerns regarding privacy and data protection. Such concerns are well illustrated by the increasingly important interplay between AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), and big data. Developers of AI systems are asked to ensure the integrity of the used data, as well as embed privacy and data protection guarantees into AI applications.
As AI algorithms involve judgements and decision-making – replacing similar human processes – concerns have been raised regarding ethics, fairness, justice, transparency, and accountability. The risk of discrimination and bias in decisions made by AI systems is one such concern. Researchers are carefully exploring the ethical challenges posed by AI and are working, for example, on the development of AI algorithms than can ‘explain themselves’.
When debates on AI governance first emerged, one overarching question was whether AI-related challenges (in areas such as safety, privacy, and ethics) call for new legal and regulatory frameworks, or whether existing ones could be adapted to also cover AI. Applying and adapting existing regulations was seen by many as the most suitable approach. But as AI innovation accelerated and applications became more and more pervasive, AI-specific governance and regulatory initiatives started emerging at national, regional, and international levels.
Visit the GIP Digital Watch observatory to find out more about these issues.
The impact of AI on diplomacy
Mapping AI’s challenges and opportunities for the conduct of diplomacy
Building on DiploFoundation’s continuous research on the relationship between technology and diplomacy – and the recent report on Data Diplomacy, commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, as well as the ongoing mapping of developments in artificial intelligence (AI) undertaken by the GIP Digital Watch observatory – Diplo’s AI Lab is partnering with institutions to progress the research and capacity development in the area of AI and diplomacy.
One of our research projects will Map AI’s challenges and opportunities for the conduct of diplomacy. With AI’s entry into all aspects of society, it will inevitably influence diplomacy. The more deeply AI is integrated into society, the larger the effect will be on the context in which diplomats operate. Broadly speaking, our aim is to understanding how AI, both existing applications and future developments, will impact the conduct of diplomacy.
Our research as part of the inception study is being conducted in four areas:
- In the first area of research, we aim to give a brief overview of the broad impact of AI on the conduct of diplomacy, building on DiploFoundation’s three-part typology which maps AI in relation to diplomatic practice in three areas:
- AI as a tool for diplomatic practice
- AI as a topic for diplomatic negotiations
- AI as an element shaping the environment in which diplomacy is practised
- In the second area of research, we are providing an overview of national recommendations and policies regarding AI. A number of countries have begun to work towards national AI strategies. We give an overview of these (emerging) strategies and analyse trends.
- In the third area of research, AI as a tool for diplomacy, we are giving an overview and access the advances of AI in analysing, recognising, and simulating human language. This has potential relevance for AI’s ability to support the work of diplomats and other foreign policy professionals in analysing internal and external text documents, analysing speeches and giving input for the content and framing of speeches, catching spam and unwanted messages, and identifying hate speech and combating the spread of terrorism content on social media platforms.
- The fourth area of research zooms in on one specific implication of AI by looking at its human rights dimension. As AI algorithms involve judgements and decision-making – replacing similar human processes – concerns have been raised regarding ethics, fairness, justice, transparency, and accountability. In this area or research, we provide an overview of the key debates and give a future outlook.
[Update] Findings of the inception study became available in January 2019 and were presented during a launch event. The report on Mapping AI’s challenges and opportunities for the conduct of diplomacy maps the relation between AI and diplomacy, takes a look at national AI strategies in a comparative manner, explores the possibilities of AI as a tool for diplomacy, and highlights the impact of AI on human rights and the responsibilities of states.
Diplo is hosting a series of WebDebates exploring the (potential) role and impact of AI in diplomatic practice.
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