China's first female astronaut Liu Yang (2nd L), Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti (2nd R), Space tourist Anousheh Ansari (1st L) and ITU Secretary-General Zhao Houlin attend an interactive forum in Geneva, Switzerland, May 17, 2018. On the occasion of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD), the United Nations on Thursday called for focus on the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). (Xinhua/Xu Jinquan)
GENEVA, May 17 (Xinhua) -- On the occasion of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD), the United Nations on Thursday called for focus on the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As this year's WTISD was marked during the 2nd AI for Good Global Summit held in Geneva, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICT), has come up with the theme of Enabling the positive use of Artificial Intelligence for All.
"The inaugural 2017 summit sparked inclusive global dialogue on the potential of AI to act as a force for good," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. "The action-oriented 2018 summit will now harness this momentum to identify practical applications of AI to improve the quality and sustainability of life on our planet."
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his video message, "I commend the ITU for the critical role it plays in narrowing the digital divide and connecting people wherever they are, whatever their means. As we look to an increasingly digital future, I welcome your focus on exploring how artificial intelligence can accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals."
"Emerging technologies have the potential to empower people and transform how we transmit knowledge, increase agricultural yields, harvest sustainable and renewable energy, treat diseases and so much more," the UN chief added.
At ITU headquarters in Geneva, the day was marked by an interactive forum with female astronauts and the first female private space explorer, who have been invited to share their perspectives on existing and potential AI-based technologies in space travel and exploration.
Among them was Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut, who said that human exploration of space has never stopped since 1961 when the first human, Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin from the former Soviet Union, journeyed into outer space.
"Thanks to the rapid development of AI, we can anticipate that 'AI astronauts' could be very helpful in future human spaceflight missions," said Liu Yang.
But Liu doesn't worry that human will be replaced. "Human astronauts will never be replaced, since they are still the essence of human space flight. We firmly believe that the efficiency of human space explorations will be significantly improved with assistance of AI astronauts."
The first female taikonaut also confirmed that by around 2022 China will have built a new space station, which would also be part of the international space cooperation.
The World Telecommunication Day was set by ITU in 1973 to commemorate the founding of the International Telecommunication Union on May 17, 1865. In 2005, the United Nations declared May 17 also as World Information Society Day to focus on the importance of ICT, and decided in 2006 to celebrate both every year.