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AI Connect

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In an age where technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, artificial intelligence stands as a transformative force with the potential to revolutionize nearly every aspect of human life. From healthcare and finance to transportation and education, AI systems are reshaping industries, promising increased efficiency, productivity, and innovation. However, with this promise comes a profound need for responsible governance. As AI becomes more deeply integrated into society, the ethical, social, and economic implications of its deployment grow increasingly complex and effective governance frameworks are essential to ensure that AI development and deployment adhere to ethical standards, safeguarding and advancing inclusive growth, sustainable development and human wellbeing.

In response to the importance for responsible development of AI, initiatives such as the “AI connect” program has emerged as a crucial platform for encouraging collaboration and knowledge exchange. This program, jointly run by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy and the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center, aims to unite stakeholders worldwide who are dedicated to ensuring ethical AI practices, in line with the OECD Recommendation on AI. The program empowers participants from various countries to actively engage in global discussions on AI ethics, promoting cross-sector collaboration, and encouraging dialogue and consensus-building among policymakers, industry leaders, and academics. With a focus on transparency and inclusivity, the program seeks to shape governance frameworks that prioritize fairness, accountability, and societal well-being, ensuring a sustainable and equitable AI future.

On March 31st, 2022, the inaugural program named “AI Connect I” commenced, launching a year-long initiative that gathered AI policy experts worldwide to deliberate on the responsible design, development, and deployment of AI technologies. The program boasted 134 participants from diverse sectors, including government, academia, and private sector. Notably, 70% of the participants were actively engaged in crafting national AI strategies or regulations. Over the course of the year, the program hosted 16 webinars and 4 workshops, with members attending prominent conferences such as the OECD AI Conversations in Paris, the ITU AI for Good Conference in Geneva, the Stanford HAI Conference in Palo Alto, and the AI for Industry, Science, and Technology conference in Geneva, and the UN General Assembly events in New York City. These webinar and workshop sessions featured globally renowned experts who shared case studies, best practices, and addressed pressing issues in AI policy and implementation.

Building upon the success of “AI Connect I”, the U.S. Department of State initiated “AI Connect II” in April 2024, aiming to encourage an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure digital economy. This sequel program brings together a selected cohort of 150 policymakers, academics, practitioners, and private sector representatives from diverse countries to collaborate with subject matter experts. Mirroring its predecessor, AI Connect II will host webinars and workshops, enabling participants to discuss their unique projects and challenges at the intersection of AI policy, governance, ethics, and innovation. The program will culminate in a symposium on responsible AI in Washington, DC in March 2025. Additionally, the Atlantic Council will support participants in developing robust AI strategies and facilitate connections between regional stakeholders, adopting a more inclusive global dialogues on responsible AI development.

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As AI systems continue to evolve, it is crucial that we remain committed to building upon these foundations laid by these international programs, ensuring that AI technologies are harnessed ethically and inclusively for the benefit and betterment of all. With continued effort and collaboration, we can navigate the complexities of the AI landscape and unlock its full potential to address the challenges of our time while creating a more equitable and sustainable future for generations to come.

Finally I am honoured to be the first Bahraini to be selected to be part of the AI connect II and also bring one of the first GCC citizens in this international group.

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