Commonwealth Artificial Intelligence Consortium to meet in New York to advance AI action plan

Members of the Commonwealth Artificial Intelligence Consortium (CAIC) will meet next week in the margins of United Nations General Assembly sessions in New York, to endorse concrete plans to harness the transformative power of artificial intelligence (AI) for sustainable development.

The meeting, scheduled for 18 September, reflects the Commonwealth Secretariat’s holistic approach towards ethical and responsible use of AI, in collaboration with global technology firms and world-leading research institutions and universities.

The CAIC, which was launched earlier this year, will deliver on the mandate set out by the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on equipping citizens with the skills needed to fully benefit from digital innovation and opportunities in cyberspace. In line with 2023 as the Commonwealth Year of Youth, it will also focus on engaging young people under the age of 30, who make up 60 percent of the combined population of the Commonwealth.

The CAIC Steering Committee, chaired by Rwanda and co-chaired by NVIDIA, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), will drive collaboration with private sector and research partners to build on progress achieved during the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s visit to Silicon Valley in April, 2023. This visit had seen the launch of this consortium of global companies, start-ups, universities and non-profits willing to work together to bridge the digital and AI gaps and empower citizens, with a focus on small states.

The CAIC Steering Committee currently includes Champion Countries Rwanda, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Gambia, Mauritius, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, said:

“It is a crucial but exciting time for the Commonwealth, as we look towards refining a clear vision and action plan to guide our approach to leveraging emerging technology for the benefit of all member nations and delivering meaningful and impactful outcomes.

“The creation of the CAIC, the establishment of a very committed Steering Committee, along with ongoing collaborations with tech partners and Research institutions, all signify the collective commitment to foster sustainable and inclusive AI advancements in the Commonwealth.”

The upcoming meeting will endorse a comprehensive AI action plan and will seek support from Champion Countries on the implementation of AI in four critical areas: Research and Innovation, Policy, Capacity Building and Infrastructure. Youth and Gender Empowerment are also cross-cutting themes. The focus would be to identify impactful projects for delivery across Commonwealth member states.

Discussions will also cover pressing global challenges, explore national AI strategies, and seize opportunities across various sectors, including healthcare, education, governance, climate change and sustainable development. Outcomes of the meeting will lay the groundwork for key deliverables ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in 2024 in Samoa.

The CAIC includes world-leading organisations such as NVIDIA, the University of California (UC) Berkeley, Microsoft, Deloitte, HP, DeepMind, Digital Catapult UK and the United Nations Satellite Centre, as well as leading universities from across the Commonwealth. The CAIC is supported by Australia’s National AI Centre (coordinated by CSIRO), the Bank of Mauritius and Digital Affairs Malta.

This collaborative approach is part of the ongoing work of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda (Physical Connectivity cluster), leveraging digital infrastructure and bridging the digital divide in small states. Led by The Gambia, the cluster supports Commonwealth countries in implementing the Agreed Principles on Sustainable Investment in Digital Infrastructure.

The CAIC seeks to fulfil the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter, particularly those related to recognising the needs of small states, ensuring the importance of young people in the Commonwealth, recognising the needs of vulnerable states, promoting gender equality and advancing sustainable development.

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