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Italian Undersecretary Alberto Barachini a the 23rd Infopoverty World Conference " A new era has begun, a human-centred vision is needed"

Artificial intelligence can enrich health diagnoses, bridge educational disparities, and support food security through more efficient agriculture, making a decisive contribution to the fight against poverty by facilitating access to education in the poorest areas. We know how much poverty and lack of education are connected.


Technology, however, is never neutral, but always linked to the context and purpose for which it is used. In the media sector, the responsible and ethical use of technology is central. The progressive substitution of human creativity is looming on the horizon, with consequent repercussions on employment levels and our general culture.


Therefore, as a new era has now begun, a human-centric vision must be held firmly accordingly to H. E: ALBERTO BARACHINI, Under Secretary of State at the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers.



READ THE FULL STATEMENT BELOW


“The first of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals is: "End poverty in all its forms everywhere".
There have been some advances in reducing poverty levels in recent years, even if much remains to be done. Meanwhile, 2023 has been a pivotal year for Ai and I would like to focus on this today. It is no exaggeration to say we are currently experiencing a new technological revolution. AI has remarkable potential to transform markets, communities, lifestyles. We stand at the dawn of a new era, in which Generative AI (GAI) has opened up revolutionary prospects in both public and private domains.
Artificial intelligence has already changed our everyday lives deeply. And it is still doing so. And this is just the beginning. Used wisely, AI can bring huge benefits. But it requires governance and good policies.  We are seeing an increase in the number of researchers, scientists, organizations and start-ups of all kinds looking at ways of leveraging AI to improve society. 
AI can enrich healthcare diagnoses, bridge educational disparities, support food security through more efficient farming. It could even drive planetary exploration.  But it can also crucially help the fight against poverty, not least by providing access to resources such as education.  We all know how much poverty and lack of education are linked. Education increases understanding and choice and opportunity, and AI can directly impact education levels in poorer areas. All that is needed is access to a computer with an internet connection.
Technology is never neutral, however. It is always linked to its context and the purpose for which it is used. In the media sector, responsible and ethical use of technology is central. The progressive replacement of human creativity looms on the horizon, with consequent repercussions on employment levels and our general culture. This must be faced with a human-centric vision. 
Just as a hammer can help build a house or be used as a dangerous weapon, so AI can bring a whole range of social and economic benefits or bring new risks and negative consequences for individuals and societies.
These are challenges that recognize no boundaries. And so we are called upon to take a global approach.
The European Union has decided to protect the integrity of the digital environment as it has always done for the physical environment.
Europe has followed a balanced approach to the development and use of AI technologies. This approach is reflected in the Artificial Intelligence Act. This new legislation is designed to ensure that these technologies are in line with the Union's values, its fundamental rights, and its principles. The rules governing AI in the Union market are human-centric. Only in this way will people be able to view AI as a reliable and trustworthy technology.
Therefore we welcome the resolution on AI recently adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The UN resolution is in line with the principles we have embraced at both the national and EU levels. These principles aim to promote the development of trustworthy and human-centric artificial intelligence, while also supporting innovation to derive maximum benefits for all from AI systems.
At both the national and international levels, Italy is committed to making significant contributions to establishing a digital space that is inclusive, open, and safe. Towards this end, we are engaged with various international forums and organizations such as the G7, the OECD, the Council of Europe, the G20, and the United Nations. 
Artificial intelligence has become a central issue in every current government agenda. Each government has its own vision and plan for AI, but effective international cooperation is crucial in developing and implementing shared approaches and frameworks. It is important to have everyone on board, to have everyone on the same team, from civil society and academia to stakeholders, media, and public platforms. Each one of us should contribute towards common goals, and work together towards a better future.
At the national level, as Undersecretary of State to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, I oversee information and publishing policies. Our focus is on information integrity, as any threats to that integrity can have a negative impact on so many areas of our public life as well as on the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals that are so important to all of us. 
In October 2023, I established a Committee of Experts in AI and I invited Father Benanti - the only Italian member of the United Nations AI Committee - to become its chairperson.  Its primary objective is to analyze the impact of generative AI in the information and publishing sectors. The work of the Committee has already produced a first report which deals with the major effects of AI in these sectors and contains a proposal for possible strategic actions.
The report highlights the impact of AI on generating news content. AI has the potential to replace some of the work done by journalists, and this may affect the integrity of the information environment, not to mention employment levels. Why is this important? Because, quite simply, a diverse and independent media sector is essential for maintaining open and democratic societies. Consequently, we need an information ecosystem that supports journalism and enables the production of accurate and verifiable information.  As an aside, we also have a concern about the protection of journalistic copyright for content used to train AI Large Language Models.
"No less important, AI can also be used to create and spread disinformation.  As a tool, it could even undermine democracy by the manipulation of information. I am concerned that emerging technologies may compromise confidence in elections, crucial to the maintenance of real and healthy democracies. This is why we work to consolidate a virtuous relationship between information and AI. A safe ecosystem for citizens is the basis of every free choice. Of course, AI, when rightfully employed, can also be a tool to fight against disinformation. This just shows the complexity of the question.
The Committee has also proposed some technical solutions to protect the integrity of information. The first proposal is the deployment of technical tools to label and track content, such as watermarking, based on blockchain technology. This labeling should identify realistic AI-generated images or videos, certify the authenticity of content and its origin, protect copyright while ensuring accountability for those who spread fake content. 
Another proposal from the Committee is the introduction of an obligation for AI developers and other subjects in the AI value chain to keep an up-to-date register listing copyright information content utilized for the training of the algorithm. 
It is becoming more and more evident that some aspects of AI like deep fake, represent an imminent danger. This technology is becoming more sophisticated at producing images and sound which may have no relation to reality at all. With this technology, reality can be modified and mystified and the formation of opinion and collective conscience can be influenced, maybe even shaped. 
There is a fragile balance that binds the relationship of trust between citizens and institutions. If this balance is disturbed there could be a crisis of political life and a crisis in that participation which makes democracy possible. The fight against disinformation is the fight to defend this fragile balance and for this reason, our government is working on how to introduce judicial measures in relation to Deep Fake perhaps by treating it as an aggravating circumstance in already existing crimes.
I consider it a privilege to be able to address these issues today, in this very place where the United Nations was established to promote universal peace and security. Unfortunately, the global peace and security that we cherish is currently endangered by numerous international conflicts and a hybrid war of information.
I firmly believe that we are at a turning point in our history. By learning from our past mistakes, we can now work together in new ways to guarantee the evolution of our society. To this end, it is essential that technology is not solely linked to commercial and profit-oriented aims, this would take it away from that human-centric vision that is so important to our future. It should be connected to ethical considerations like the progress of humankind and economic freedom and independence. Let us strive towards making technology a tool for the betterment of society as a whole.
Institutions have a profound responsibility to bring out a virtuous response from the players in the digital world. Everyone who wants to take part in this ethical challenge should contribute to building a robust network of solidarity within our community in whichever way they can.
We need to ask ourselves what it is we are trying to build for our future, and what we are leaving for our children. A positive answer to this question requires us to commit ourselves fully to the goal of achieving economic prosperity. Profit, and commercial activity in general, is an important drivers of progress, and progress, in turn, brings greater knowledge and expertise. But let us remember that profit is not an end in itself and that the goal of all our work is the betterment of human living conditions, to enable all of us to live more fulfilling lives.
Thank you”

The FINAL DECLARATION of the 23rd Infopoverty World Conference is now available! The Plan of Action including a list of projects and proposals that emerged from the discussion will be available soon. STAY TUNED!


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