Telstra becomes the first Australian company to join UNESCO’s Business Council to promote ethical AI

Telstra has joined a select group of global organisations to champion and advance the ethical development and application of AI.

Telstra is the first Australian organisation, and the sixth globally, to join the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s Business Council to promote the implementation of its Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.

The UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence advocates for AI technologies to be governed by values that promote human rights, dignity, and environmental sustainability, emphasising transparency, accountability, and adherence to the rule of law.

Telstra will work with UNESCO and other member organisations, like Microsoft and Salesforce, to support policy development in critical areas such as data governance and diversity. The Business Council will also work to develop an ethical impact assessment tool, as well as joint initiatives to ensure AI serves the public good.

Kim Krogh Andersen, group executive of Product & Technology at Telstra, says this is about translating the Recommendation into practical action and tangible outcomes.

“AI is a transformative technology that has the potential to benefit societies globally – but it requires very careful and deliberate stewardship,” Mr Krogh Anderson said.

“We’re proud to be the first Australian company to join the UNESCO Business Council and champion the increasingly critical cause of ethical and responsible AI.

“In such a fast-moving space, collaboration is a non-negotiable. We all need to lean on and learn from each other, to ensure AI is developed and deployed in a way that respects human rights, diversity and dignity.

“UNESCO and Telstra share a vision for a future where AI is driven by ethical principles that prioritise human welfare. This collaboration marks a significant step towards realising that future.”

“We are pleased that Telstra has joined UNESCO in the implementation of the Recommendation. UNESCO is leading the international efforts to build ethical, responsible and inclusive AI frameworks worldwide, working with governments from 50 countries, G7, G20 and other international initiatives, and particularly with leading global companies. Having Telstra in our Business Council will foster our speed, depth and reach,” said Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO.

This new partnership builds on Telstra’s strong history of leadership in responsible AI both locally and internationally, working with the Australian government to pilot and test Australia’s AI Ethics Principles, and co-authoring the Responsible AI Playbook with the GSMA.

Across its business, Telstra operates and continually refines a Responsible AI Policy which combines policy, education, advisory and specific risk management controls, allowing it to embrace AI responsibly for the benefit of customers and employees.

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