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A call for taking action! Finding an Information Society Agreement (comparable to the Paris Climate Agreement)

At the latest since Geoffrey Hinton ( ) as the “Godfather of AI” left Google for reasons he explained e.g. in (as well when leading business figures such as Elon Musk or Steve Wozniak from the community of information technologists) and since other competent computer scientists have been calling for a moratorium on research into artificial intelligence ( ), a larger public, governments and international bodies have become aware that a need has arisen in society to find direction and rules that fundamentally orient the further development of information technology as a whole, both in terms of democracy and socio-politics. 


This discussion was already commented on by the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Bernes Lee, in 2018 with his statement that the internet is “broken”, with which he wanted to point out the undesirable developments that the original idea of an internet as a public platform for all has meanwhile been corrupted by economic interests. ( ) . 


At the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2021, Sundar Pichai, head of Google’s parent company Alpha, also expressed the idea that the decision-makers in the information technology industry and public institutions should come together to agree on something like an agreement similarly along the lines of the Paris Climate Agreement in order to keep large-scale, i.e. global, developments in check due to the all-pervasive influence of information technology ( An Insight, An Idea with Sundar Pichai | DAVOS AGENDA 2021 ). These concerns have already begun to be discussed in many small-scale statements. (Representative examples may be the initiative on Digital Humanism launched by the Viennese computer science community ( ) or the thematization of ethically determined design ( ) by the world’s largest association of engineers and scientists, the IEEE Institute ( ). 


(The exponentially growing involvement of computer scientists with the topic of ethics – e.g. through ERCIM ( ) – is another strong indication that this community is struggling for orientation in the future development of IT and AI systems). 


The European Union in the person of the European Commission (as well as national governments) is constantly dealing with legal issues relevant to information technology developments, e.g. through the so called Information Act ( ) or a regulatory framework on Artificial Intelligence ( ). 


The call disseminated herewith is intended to provide an initial spark for founding and organizing a conference, if not a series of conferences, on the question of the further development of the information society under the impression of the overwhelmingly growing influence of information technology and especially its manifestation in the form of Artificial Intelligence. Comparable to the Paris Climate Agreement, one can imagine, for example, a UN supported Geneva Agreement to guide the future development of the information society, in which topics such as 

– Influence, threats and potential of AI and future research in it 

– Information & knowledge society of the future 

– The future of the internet and metaverse 

– Trustworthness of IT Systems and software 

– The political dimension and influence of IT 

– An Ethics for information technology 

– … 

are discussed and prepared as a foundation for political decision-making processes. 


This call goes so far as to address the Geneva related bodies as a potential organizers such as the UN, the ITU (annually organizing the Summit on Artificial Intelligence), the WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society), the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), (on Swiss level the Geneva Internet Platform and the Geneva Digital Atlas), Computer Societies such as IEEE and ACM, and many more global organizations, as well as all intergovernmental and national governments, NGOs and socio-political organizations and, above all, the well known determining global high-tech companies active in the fields of information technologies and AI. 


The idea is to prepare a conference or series of conferences, preferably under the planning of a program body, if possible under the umbrella of the UN, the aim of which should be to comprehensively discuss questions of future developments envisaged by the globally operating information industry and, in doing so, to make their trend-setting ideas for society transparent and to show policy-makers options for decision-making on such relevant issues. 


To set such a project in motion, the proposal is made to start a “boostrap” process with an initially small but highly competent core team, at the end of which the realization of the proposed conference series will take place. 


Note: The zero version of this proposal was written in April 2023 by Günter Koch ( German CV: ) and sent to a small circle of potential initiators for further discussion of the proposal and its potential to be implemented. Koch is not claiming any initial right or copyright, he is much more interested in the realisation of the said conference moving to the direction of an Intergovernmental Panel on Future Directions in IT and AI (IPFDIA ?) comparable to the Paris IPCC for fighting the climate change.