UN General Assembly 2023 and updates: Roundup on the Four Pillars

UN General Assembly 2023 and updates: Roundup on the Four Pillars

The UN General Assembly 2023 began this week. Leaders of four out of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are not attending, but the UNGA is a platform for countries to exprress their opinions, even if there is little enacted. Regardless, some notable events pertaining to the Four Pillars are:

  • The US and Brazil aligned with each other on labor, with Biden and Lula minimizing their differences on issues such as Ukraine and Venezuela. In a meeting of the leading countries in the Western hemisphere, they announced a partnership on supporting workers’ rights.
  • Ukraine’s Zelensky, recipient of the World Peace and Security Award 2022, spoke in front of the UNSC, strongly denouncing the Russian invasion as a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and norms of war, and urged member states to revoke Russia’s veto.
  • The UK used its platform to pitch how it wants to be a world leader in handling AI.

In minor news, Reuters reported that the US and Vietnam are negotiating a deal that would send F-16s to the Southeast Asian country. This came on the heels of Biden’s visit to Vietnam and the elevation of the two country’s relationship to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Furthermore, the US is seeking to counterbalance China, and thus seeks partners in their efforts. Still, it is unclear whether or not Vietnam is deeply invested in just American arms, as the country is trying to strike up an arms deal with Russia as well.

There are some follow-ups to last week edition’s as well:

China complained about German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s remark last week which called Xi Jinping a “dictator.” Germany’s Ambassador to China, Patricia Flor, was summoned and reprimanded.

It was reported in the Wall Street Journal that the former Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang was sacked because of an extramarital affair, which resulted in a child being born in the US (and thus, an American citizen). It is said that (former?) Defense Minister Li Shangfu is under investigation too, but the cause is unclear.

Read more about these topics:

  • [Politico] It’s the Biden show as other top leaders skip UNGA
  • [AP News] Biden and Brazil’s Lula focus on workers’ rights while publicly playing down differences
  • [AP News] Ukraine’s president, at Security Council, lashes out at Russia but avoids face-to-face encounter
  • [AP News] Britain uses UN speech to show that it wants to be a leader on how the world handles AI
  • [Reuters] Exclusive: Biden aides in talks with Vietnam for arms deal that could irk China
  • [Deutsche Welle] China outraged: Baerbock called President Xi ‘dictator’
  • [Wall Street Journal] China’s Former Foreign Minister Ousted After Alleged Affair, Senior Officials Told

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, U.S., September 19, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Boston Global Forum contributes the Special Report on Governing AI in the Age of Global Tension to Riga Conference 2023

Boston Global Forum contributes the Special Report on Governing AI in the Age of Global Tension to Riga Conference 2023

The Boston Global Forum (BGF) is contributing a groundbreaking Special Report titled “Governing AI in the Age of Global Tension” to the prestigious Riga Conference 2023.

The Riga Conference, an annual event bringing together policymakers, experts, and thought leaders from around the world, serves as a platform for discussing critical geopolitical and security issues. This year, the inclusion of BGF’s Special Report adds a significant dimension to the conference’s focus on emerging technologies and their implications.

The Special Report delves into the complex landscape of Artificial Intelligence (AI) governance, particularly in a world marked by increasing global tension and geopolitical complexities. It highlights the need for comprehensive strategies and actions to govern AI technologies effectively and ethically.

Key components of the Special Report include:

Scenario Planning: Acknowledging the importance of preparing for AI-related security threats during periods of global tension through contingency plans and scenario simulations.

Four Pillars: Recognizing the essential role of the United States, Japan, the European Union and the United Kingdom (EU-UK), and India as foundational players in establishing an enlightened approach to AI governance.

Stakeholders: Emphasizing the involvement of diverse stakeholders such as civil society, think tanks, universities, the business community, religions, and governments in shaping AI governance.

Fundamental Aspects: Focusing on core aspects of AI governance, including the development of globally accepted standards and norms for AI ethics, fostering innovation and research, and promoting AI development that prioritizes the well-being of all individuals.

Action Plan: Outlining a comprehensive action plan that encompasses setting standards and norms, engaging with religions, coordinating efforts through organizations like the Global Alliance for Digital Governance (GADG) and GLIDES, building an AI World Society, and monitoring and adapting to AI developments.

The report calls for international cooperation, the engagement of religious leaders, and collaboration among governments and stakeholders to ensure that AI technologies are developed and deployed ethically and responsibly.

The inclusion of BGF’s Special Report at the Riga Conference 2023 reflects the increasing recognition of AI governance as a global priority, especially in the context of geopolitical tensions. It underlines the urgency of addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by AI in a manner that aligns with ethical principles and societal well-being.

The Boston Global Forum remains committed to fostering dialogue and cooperation among global leaders and experts to address the pressing challenges of our time, including those posed by emerging technologies like AI.

Professor Zaneta Ozolina, Chairwoman of LATO

Alex Pentland and John Quelch speak and discuss about US-India Tech Economic Alliance

Alex Pentland and John Quelch speak and discuss about US-India Tech Economic Alliance

Boston Global Forum and Michael Dukakis Institute are delighted to introduce two Global Enlightenment Leaders who will be speaking at the upcoming Boston Global Forum – MIT Connection Science High-level Dialogue, taking place on September 27, 2023, from 10:00 am to 11:30 am EST at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This dialogue is centered around the theme of “Reinventing Silicon Valley: Establishing Enlightenment Tech Economy Alliance between the US and India.”


This high-level dialogue promises to be an insightful and collaborative discussion on strengthening ties between the US and India in the realm of technology and innovation. We look forward to the valuable insights that will be shared by our distinguished speakers.


Professor Alex Pentland is a renowned MIT professor, Board Member of Boston Global Forum, Distinguished Contributor to the book “Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment”, author, and a leading authority in the field of social physics, data-driven decision-making, and technology-driven innovation.

Contribution: Professor Pentland’s groundbreaking research has paved the way for a deeper understanding of human behavior through data analytics, and he is a strong advocate for the ethical and responsible use of data in shaping our future.


Professor John Quelch is a co-founder and Member of the Boston Global Forum (BGF), as well as a distinguished academic leader.

Contribution: Professor Quelch has made significant contributions to the fields of global business, marketing, and public health. His involvement in BGF highlights his dedication to fostering global cooperation and addressing pressing global challenges.


Professor John Quelch

MIT Professor Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland

Global Enlightenment Mountain: BGF and MIT Connection Science discussed with VNPT to pave the way for a National Data Center and Data Economy for Vietnam

Global Enlightenment Mountain: BGF and MIT Connection Science discussed with VNPT to pave the way for a National Data Center and Data Economy for Vietnam

On September 22, 2023 the Boston Global Forum and MIT Connection Science discussed with the CEO of Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), Huynh Quang Liem, to explore the creation of a national data center and data economy in Vietnam. This collaboration marks a significant stride toward harnessing the power of data for prosperity and security.

The meeting, featuring distinguished guests and experts, including Thomas Hardjono, Technical Director of MIT Connection Science, delved into key aspects of establishing a national data center and how this endeavor can revolutionize Vietnam’s approach to data governance and utilization.


Key Highlights from the Meeting:

  1. Areas of Research:

The national data center’s research areas encompass a broad spectrum, including computational social science, data privacy, privacy-preserving computations, generative AI, large language models, web3 technologies, digital identity, tokenized assets, and network and cybersecurity.

  1. The Three Critical Components:

The success of this initiative hinges on three core components: capital, labor, and data. While capital represents the means of production, citizens’ trust in data and the AI economy is paramount. Citizens want control over their data and trust in the outcomes derived from it.

  1. Building Trust:

To establish trust in the data ecosystem, the meeting proposed several measures, including data ownership rights, enabling individuals to have their copies of data, and the creation of community institutions that actively interact with citizens.

  1. Tackling the Data Literacy Challenge:

One of the challenges identified was the average citizen’s limited ability to understand and interpret data effectively. The meeting explored innovative solutions, such as data co-ops and unions, regional councils, and data banks, to empower citizens to collectively analyze and make sense of data.

  1. Data Banks as a Model:

The meeting highlighted the potential of data banks, similar to credit unions, where members collectively pool data resources. This model could provide more accessibility to data analytics for citizens.

  1. Deriving Insights from Data:

The discussion touched on the importance of enabling external parties to derive valuable insights from the data housed in the national data center. Initiatives like MIT Living Lab in South Australia, which focuses on monetizing data in a privacy-preserving way, served as an example of a sustainable model.

  1. Understanding Disinformation:

The meeting considered the role of analytics in understanding and combating disinformation, citing examples like China amplifying Russian disinformation and instances of financial rumors causing significant market disruptions.

  1. Zero Trust Network Security:

In the context of evolving network security paradigms, the meeting examined the concept of zero trust network security and its relevance to safeguarding data.


The collaboration between BGF, MIT Connection Science, and VNPT represents a significant step toward building a national data center that will not only drive economic growth but also empower citizens to actively participate in the data-driven economy. With data as the new currency of the digital age, this initiative holds the potential to transform Vietnam’s digital landscape and establish it as a leader in responsible data governance and utilization.

As discussions progress, BGF, MIT Connection Science, and VNPT will continue to engage with stakeholders to explore opportunities for collaboration and the creation of a data ecosystem that benefits all.

VNPT CEO Huynh Quang Liem, and delegation at MIT Connection Science

A week of small developments: Roundup on Four Pillars

A week of small developments: Roundup on Four Pillars

While there were no major events this week, there were still a handful of developments in the space of the Four Pillars. Let us visit them in this segment:

European Commission President and BGF 2020 World Leader for Peace and Security Award recipient Ursula von der Leyen launched an investigation into Chinese electric vehicles. Critics deride this move as a protectionist hindrance and one backed by the European auto industry, but it is worth noting that Chinese EVs have been heavily subsidized by the government. This investigation could also invite retaliation from Beijing. This move should be seen in the light of rising tensions and distrust between the EU and China, as the Union seeks to develop a plan to move away from dependence with the East Asian power.

Furthermore, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock labeled Xi Jinping as “dictator,” adding that Europe must cut down on its dependence with China – not fully de-couple, but de-risk. In an interview with Bloomberg, she backed the Commission’s investigation into the Chinese EVs subsidies.

Remember the Chinese Spy Balloon incident in February this year? It is now reported that China has suspended its spy balloon program after the incident, which led Anthony Blinken to cancel his visit. It is unclear how long this suspension will last though, if it is merely a token concession as the program becomes public knowledge. In the same vein, it is revealed that the balloon was not intentionally flying over continental North America, but rather its target was Hawaii. And once the US was made aware of its presence, it was no longer capable of sending data back due to jamming.

There is a development worth keeping an eye on: the “disappearance” of two Chinese cabinet ministers in recent months. Foreign minister Qin Gang mysteriously disappeared and was replaced this summer. Less than two months later, the defense minister Li Shangfu met a similar fate. It appears that Xi’s grip on the state apparatus in China is tightening even further, perhaps in anticipation of an invasion of Taiwan.

Minh Nguyen

Read more about these topics:

  • [Politico EU] Von der Leyen hits China with electric vehicle subsidy probe
  • [The Telegraph] Brussels launches fightback against cheap Chinese electric cars flooding Europe
  • [Politico EU] Germany’s Baerbock calls China’s Xi Jinping a dictator
  • [Bloomberg] Europe Must Cut Down on Its Dependence With China, Baerbock Says
  • [CNN] China appears to have suspended spy balloon program after February shootdown, US intel believes
  • [CBS News] The bizarre secret behind China’s spy balloon
  • [Financial Times] Then there were two: disappearance of second Chinese minister sparks speculation

Credit: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg | Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, highlighted the threat Chinese auto subsidies pose to EU manufacturing