UNESCO chief calls for greater role for women in work on artificial intelligence

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5 March 2019

Work on artificial intelligence requires an inclusive approach, including through a more active role of women, which is so far not extensive enough, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in an interview with TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman ahead of a trip to Russia.

"Diversity issues are being discussed concerning the most technologically-savvy issues. What should be done to see that women take part in endeavors to create the artificial intelligence of the future? Their numbers are insignificant in that sector at the moment," the UNESCO chief said.

According to her, such new technology will change many aspects of human life, including the system of education and the life of entire cities, but progress will generate deeper problems. "This issue is very sensitive and the question will arise about the values that we want to preserve in this world of technologies of the future," Azoulay stressed.

She cautioned against "admiring technology as long as there are questions about it," adding that "at the same time we must use the best achievements to advance towards fulfilling common goals for the sake of prosperity for all of humanity," Azoulay said.

She reiterated that UNESCO is a major international forum whose principal mission is an exchange of opinions and search for answers to important questions, including the protection of common values. As an example, Azoulay pointed to the news of gene-editing in a human embryo that had topped world headlines, while the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee urged for a moratorium on human genome editing until the safety and efficiency of this procedure would be proven. At the same time, however, the organization called for continuing discussion on the ethical aspect of this procedure. "It seems to me that we must embrace this thinking," she stated.

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