Reshaped By AI: How AI Is Changing What Sovereignty Means

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Why in News?

  • The year 2023 has seen and left behind an uncertain global landscape marked by conflicts, environmental concerns, and technological advancements.
  • Therefore, to address such issues, AI governance in particular, a significant effort is underway to shape the ethical use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related frontier technologies.
  • The United Nations (UN) has taken an important role in this endeavour, exemplified by the joint session of the High-Level Committee on Programmes and the High-Level Committee on Management in October 2023.

Key Features of the UN's Commitment to an Ethical Framework

  • Represents a Cornerstone in Ethical Use of AI
    • The UN commitment to an ethical framework for AI governance represents a cornerstone in shaping the responsible and human-centric development of emerging technologies.
    • Rooted in the principles laid out in the UNESCO declaration, this ethical framework provides a comprehensive guide for the use and governance of AI within the UN system.
  • Respect for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
    • The foundation of the ethical framework is the unequivocal commitment to respecting, protecting, and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
    • The acknowledgment of the inherent dignity of individuals serves as a guiding principle to ensure that AI technologies do not infringe upon basic human rights.
  • Promotes Diversity and Inclusiveness
    • To counteract biases and discriminatory practices, the framework underscores the importance of diversity and inclusiveness.
    • It advocates for AI systems that are designed to be inclusive, considering a diverse range of perspectives, cultural contexts, and individual experiences to prevent the perpetuation of societal inequalities.
  • Good Governance and Just Development
    • The ethical framework extends its reach to the broader aspects of governance and development.
    • Emphasising good governance principles, it calls for transparent, accountable, and participatory decision-making processes in the development and deployment of AI.
    • Additionally, it advocates for AI to contribute to just and equitable development, ensuring that the benefits of technological advancements are shared across all segments of society.

Transformation of Territorial Sovereignty into Digital Sovereignty and its Implications

  • Transformation of Territorial Sovereignty
    • There has been a subtle yet profound transformation in the principle of territorial sovereignty.
    • As nations navigate the digital age, control over information and data becomes a central aspect of sovereignty.
    • The traditional understanding of territorial boundaries expands to encompass control over digital mediums.
  • Efforts to Accumulate Classified Data
    • Digital sovereignty also involves the accumulation and control of classified data.
    • There are potential risks associated with this data accumulation, raising concerns about privacy, security, and the potential misuse of sensitive information.
    • In diplomacy, the control over classified data becomes a form of soft power, shaping nations' ability to influence global narratives and secure their interests in the digital domain.
  • Disinformation and Diplomatic Challenge
    • In recent time there has been a prevalence of disinformation, misleading information, and hate speech in the digital realm.
    • In diplomacy, these challenges pose significant hurdles in maintaining transparent and constructive international relations.
  • Manipulation of Democratic Processes
    • Karl Manheim and Lyric Kaplan's article emphasises the growing threat of AI tools in manipulating the preconditions and levers of democracy.
    • As AI becomes more prevalent in political processes, there is a risk that it may be employed to manipulate public opinion, influence elections, and undermine the democratic principles that govern transparent and fair governance.
    • This manipulation poses a fundamental threat to the democratic fabric of societies worldwide.
  • Threats to Decisional and Informational Privacy
    • The deployment of AI, particularly in the context of Big Data Analytics and the Internet of Things, poses threats to both decisional and informational privacy.
    • AI's principal function, at present, is to capture personal information and create detailed behavioural profiles.
    • This jeopardises individuals' autonomy and privacy, as decisions and actions become subject to surveillance and analysis, potentially leading to the erosion of personal freedoms.
    • The ongoing digital conflicts between the US and China underscore the existence of three distinct "digital empires."

The Ongoing Conflict Among Major Digital Empires

  • Anu Bradford's analysis suggests that the US, with its techno-optimistic model emphasising freedom for the AI industry, contrasts with China's state-driven regulatory model, characterized by surveillance and control.
  • The global rise of China's model raises concerns about its normative and descriptive influence, particularly in authoritarian countries.
  • The European Union's model, prioritising a human rights-based approach, offers an alternative that aligns with a more equitable and human-centric digital economy.

Consequence of the Ongoing Conflict Among Digital Empires

  • Techno-Optimism Could be Dangerous
    • While there are potential benefits of AI, an overly optimistic approach may lead to the neglect of ethical considerations, resulting in the unchecked growth of industries that prioritize profit over principles.
    • This techno-optimism run wild could lead to a future where privacy and democracy become relics of the past.
  • Points to an Uncertain Future
    • As the world grapples with divergent models of AI governance, Bradford prompts reflection on the uncertain future of the technopolitical landscape.
    • The competition between surveillance capitalism, digital authoritarianism, and liberal democratic values remains unresolved.
    • It raises the question as to which foundation will underpin human engagement and societal development in the digital era.

Ways Ahead to Prevent These Challenges

  • Establishment of Transborder Governance of AI
    • There is need for the centrality of transborder governance in the regulation of AI technologies.
    • As AI transcends geographical boundaries, it becomes imperative to establish international frameworks that govern its ethical development and use.
    • The discussions within the United Nations committees exemplify a concerted effort to create a global consensus on the norms and regulations governing AI.
    • Moreover, it recognises that unilateral approaches are insufficient in addressing the transnational nature of these technologies.
  • A Shift Towards Digital Diplomacy
    • The evolving dynamics of digital sovereignty necessitate a re-evaluation of traditional diplomatic practices.
    • Digital diplomacy becomes a crucial aspect of international relations, encompassing efforts to navigate the challenges posed by digital technologies while leveraging them for diplomatic purposes.
    • Nations must engage in strategic digital diplomacy to safeguard their interests, project influence, and build alliances in the digital age.


  • As the world confronts the challenges posed by AI, the need for a delicate balance between progress and ethics becomes apparent.
  • The future of the technopolitical landscape hangs in the balance, and global collaboration is essential to navigate the uncharted waters of AI development and application.

Q1) Why do we need Artificial Intelligence?

The goal of Artificial intelligence is to create intelligent machines that can mimic human behaviour. We need AI for today's world to solve complex problems, make our lives more smoothly by automating routine work, saving manpower, and to perform many other tasks.

Q2) What is the limitation of AI in its current form? 

In the current stage of Artificial intelligence, one can only employ it for individual solutions to carry out certain AI-powered marketing tasks. There are numerous intelligent marketing solutions available, ranging from using AI to optimise and personalise your content to an AI tool that helps optimise paid advertising. However, as there is no universally applicable answer, using a variety of different tools to complete a variety of artificially intelligent activities can be costly, time-consuming, and messy.

Source: The Indian Express