On October 1, 2020 the Government of the Republic of Slovenia received an official notification from UNESCO, confirming that all formalities required to establish the first International Research Center for Artificial Intelligence under the auspices of UNESCO (IRCAI) were completed. With this final act, the agreement on the establishment of IRCAI between the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and UNESCO officially entered into force. The proposal of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for the establishment of IRCAI was approved unanimously and with great support by all Member States at the 40th Session of the UNESCO General Conference in November 2019. IRCAI is therefore a new Category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO and the only one directly focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The proposal of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for the establishment of IRCAI was approved unanimously and with great support by all Member States at the 40th Session of the UNESCO General Conference in November 2019. IRCAI is therefore a new Category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO and the only one directly focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI). It’s associated through formal arrangements approved by the UNESCO General Conference and is committed to engaging in supporting UNESCO’s strategic programme objectives. IRCAI is partially directly funded by the Republic of Slovenia where it is located, but its scope and reach are global.
In its operations, IRCAI respects the common values of the European Union and its ethical foundations. It is a network of institutions and experts from around the world and a clearinghouse for relevant global artificial intelligence projects. It offers an open and transparent dialogue and aims to provide both technological and political support to stakeholders around the world in the planning and deployment of artificial intelligence.
IRCAI and its experts already cover the areas of education, assistive technologies, waste management, climate change, the circular economy, and the measurement of sustainable development indicators. At the beginning of the covid-19 containment measures, IRCAI researchers used their tested artificial intelligence technology to raise public awareness by offering it the online service Coronavirus watch. IRCAI actively works in the field of artificial intelligence development following the common values of the UN and European Union and their ethical foundations.
In addition to the mentioned web service, the activities of the center also included the organization of a regional virtual conference for the preparation of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. The regional consultation took place online from 27 to 29 July this year and was attended by 74 experts in the field of artificial intelligence and ethics from 25 countries. The main outcome of the regional consultation was a set of proposals for a draft text for the Recommendation. UNESCO then asked IRCAI to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the results of all such regional consultations.
The main objective of IRCAI is to provide a focal point, a funding pathway, and an accelerator for approaches to reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It will help develop and scale existing capacities in a variety of ways, including by supporting the establishment of research centers around the world, the development of training programs and capacity building and awareness-raising, and the establishment of networks to exchange research and knowledge on artificial intelligence topics concerning sustainable development goals. The activities that will lead to the achievement of the IRCAI goals will be presented to the public at the time of its official launch, which is expected to take place in 2021.