UNU hosts its first AI conference in Macau

2024-04-26 03:52     BY Rui Pastorin    Comment:1

Ao Ieong quotes Xi that AI should be people-centred

The United Nations University (UNU) Institute in Macau hosted yesterday its first conference on artificial intelligence (AI).

The UNU Macau AI Conference was held yesterday at the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Centre, which featured over 120 speakers from more than 30 countries and regions and marked the first AI conference in the UNU’s history as well as the university’s first AI conference in Macau as well as in the whole of China.

UNU Macau is one of 12 UNU research institutions all over the world.

Themed “AI for All: Bridging Divides, Building a Sustainable Future”, the event was a multi-stakeholder AI conference that brought together global leaders, experts, and innovators to discuss the responsible and sustainable development of artificial intelligence.

Speakers included top-level UN officials, academicians, members of the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), covering 25 parallel sessions across three thematic tracks: AI to Accelerate SDGs, AI Governance for the Future, and AI and Capacity Building.

Speaking with the media on the sidelines of yesterday’s event, UNU Macau’s Director Huang Jingbo noted she hoped to take the results of the conference back to the UN headquarters in New York in September “to contribute to the summit of the future, so the entire world can hear the AI debate happening here”.

She also said that UNU Macau would also like to use the conference as an opportunity “to bridge conversations related to different aspects of AI because there are many, many topics to discuss”, each deserving great attention as the topics “will lead to the future debate and future discussion on whether we can bring a safe and equitable AI for all”.

Moreover, Huang told the Post that through the conference, UNU hopes to bridge the cultural conversations related to AI from the Global North and Global South and the cultures in the East and West, as well as to use the opportunity to engage with the Macau government, locals and different sectors to join the debate and discussions.

“We hope that we can use this opportunity to plant some seeds in Macau, and hopefully in the next years, next decades we can work together with Macau locals, governments and the Greater Bay Area (GBA) and expand it to greater China on this topic of AI to strike a balance between development and safety for AI”, she said.

Yesterday’s conference also saw the launch of the UNU Global AI Network, which represents a collaborative initiative to address the challenges posed by AI on a global scale. Huang told the Post that the multi-stakeholder network includes the private sector, academia and NGOs, as well as national governments. She said that the network has so far gathered over 50 members that signed up to it, also including some private sector members and universities in Macau, covering 19 countries.

Around 500 participants attended the conference, Huang said.

Also in attendance were United Nations University Rector and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Tshilidzi Marwala, and Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Ieong U, who represented Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng.

In her speech, Ao Ieong underlined the government’s focus on advancing Macau’s high-tech industry, including AI, in the next five years, and that various policies are being implemented step by step.

“We have launched a scheme to attract talent in the aspect of the ‘high-tech industry’, promoted the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area [GBA] into a ‘highland’ for high-level talent. We have also participated in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area Innovative Technology Corridor by linking up the strength and resources in talent and technologies of the Greater Bay Area and the [Guangdong Macau] In-depth Cooperation Zone [in Hengqin], so as to strengthen the synergistic development of key industries, support the establishment of platforms for scientific and technological cooperation, and realise the unimpeded flow of scientific and technological elements”.

Ao Ieong also said that “we welcome scientific and technological talent and insightful people from all over the world to come to Macau to start up businesses and facilitate development.”

Ao Ieong also underlined that “people are the key to the creation, development and application of AI,” and she pointed out that President Xi Jinping has stressed that the development of AI should adhere to a people-centred concept, with the goal of fostering humanity’s universal well-being. 

United Nations University Institute in Macau (UNU Macau) Director Huang Jingbo (aka Jingbo Huan) delivers her opening remarks during yesterday’s UNU Macau AI Conference at the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Centre.
– Photo: Rui Pastorin

Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Ieong U delivers a speech at yesterday’s conference. – Photo: Rui Pastorin

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