Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


May 4, 2023 - Washington, DC

We gather today to discuss one of the most critical topics of our time: The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on our societies and how best to prepare for and respond to the emergence of this technology.

The OAS is keenly aware that generative AI and the technologies behind super charged neural networks impact the four fundamental pillars of the OAS: Development, Democracy, Human Rights and Security.

In terms of its economic impact and its potential for development, Goldman Sachs research estimates that generative artificial intelligence can result in a 7% growth in global GDP and improve productivity by 1.5 percentage points over the next decade. Building the right ecosystems, countries of the Americas can benefit significant numbers of people and communities by providing fast track access to solutions and new business and career economics or social conditions.

Other concerns relate to the right of privacy, the ability to work, and the potential to affect underrepresented groups using AI tools as decision-making mechanisms to provide public services or administer judicial systems.

All these issues have been dominating news cycles over the past few months and so we are aware of these revolutionary technologies are already having profound effects on everyday lives.

It is therefore timely for us to engage in meaningful review of the current and potential challenges for OAS member states, the policy implications and the constructive engagement of all sectors which is necessary as we chart a way forward.

I would like to highlight a few issues that are fundamental for collaboration with OAS member states:

First, deliberate efforts are required to avoid leaving countries and communities behind from the opportunity to leverage AI and transformative technologies to improve lives. There is a technological, economic and social gap in the Americas, both between and within countries, as further evidenced by the effects of generative artificial intelligence.

While the deployment of the technology may be global, solutions must fit national contexts which may vary from one locale to the other. The technology will not remain static and constant learning and collaboration are imperative, together with collective analysis and the sharing of good practices and lessons learned.

We will need to set up regional and national mechanisms to install the ability to craft, review and adopt policies, principles, guidelines, regulations and solutions to address the ongoing effects of AI as it relates to security and institutional stability of countries. Understanding the technology and its dynamic evolution will help countries to build trust, design and set up effective and efficient oversight to safeguard their institutions.

Artificial intelligence and other transformative technologies offer a unique opportunity to drive science-based solutions to existential threats for countries related to climate change, disaster risk management, access to food, water, energy and health. Is it upon all of us to seize the opportunity through smart policies, timely investments and partnerships that transformative technologies offer to our people and communities in the Americas.

The OAS is committed to supporting member states in these efforts.

Thank you