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(Fifteen-minute read)

This is not a spectator sport:

It can be nearly impossible to credibly predict all the positive possibilities and negative implications for how we live, work, govern, and organize arising from the deployment of AI.

The fact that we are deeply uncertain about how technologies will evolve in the years and decades ahead makes human rights due diligence of AI very challenging. Résultat de recherche d'images pour "pictures of human rights abuse"

The fact that the rapid development of AI raises challenges for securing access to remedy, which can be especially challenging when humans often can’t cognitively understand how a decision is made by AI systems:

The fact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is increasingly being used by businesses, governments, and other institutions to augment many fields of human endeavor.

The fact that Methodologies for implementing respect for human rights may need to integrate strategic tools such as strategic foresight, futures thinking, and scenario planning.

The fact that the global “platformization” of content (i.e., the rise of Video on Demand and online streaming platforms) shows us that guarantees of people’s access to the culture of their selection may now become beholden to digital intermediaries.

Proponents believe that the further development of AI creates new opportunities in health, education, and transportation, will generate wealth and strengthen economies and can be used to solve pressing social issues. However, the rapid growth of AI raises important questions about whether our current policies, legal systems, business due diligence practices, and methods to protect rights are fit for purpose.

The significant expansion of data collected and analyzed may also result in increasing the power of companies with ownership over this data and threaten our right to privacy.


As the digital paradigm evolves, the pathway for human rights is likely to become more complicated, making appropriate regulation more important than ever. The realization of ESCR and the right to development centers on data democracies that are accountable.

Global policy discourses and frameworks around data have skewed the digital innovation tide in favor of developed countries… the global “platformization” of content… shows us that guarantees of people’s access to the culture of their selection may now become beholden to digital intermediaries.

Data and technological arrangements in the global South and North worryingly point to a wholesale private capture and consolidation of critical data regimes in the developing world: trade, agriculture, health, and education.

Not only does this leave citizens in developing countries vulnerable to acute privacy violations, but it also bears decisively on their economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs). For example, in India, the acquisition of homegrown successes, such as Wal-Mart’s purchase of the domestic e-commerce unicorn, Flipkart, poses very serious outcomes for the livelihoods of small producers and traders.

Algorithm-based decision-making by companies could also perpetuate human bias and result in discriminatory outcomes, as they already have in some cases.

An algorithm is meant to complement and not necessarily displace human discernment, it is not hard to imagine a future where humanitarian assistance to refugees becomes predicated on their (technology proven) ability to viably assimilate and contribute to their host economies.

Could the trade-off for a smoother resettlement process be the exclusion of those that the algorithm will one day write off as “inadmissible” and “unsolvable”?

Technology-based decision-making also raises important questions on how the right to development will be realized.

Artificial intelligence is undermining society by promising unimaginable benefits without any intervention from governments or other world organizations.

As always we humans react to crises when it’s too late.Résultat de recherche d'images pour "pictures of human rights abuse"

Governments must create policies for effective data sharing between governments and the private sector for sectors that are of critical social importance.

More importantly, governments must create a data commons with independent oversight.

For example:

The municipality of Curitiba in Brazil, for instance, has taken the lead in passing local legislation that mandates anonymized data sharing between the local government and the ride aggregator Uber. The intention is to tap into Uber’s large and rich data sets towards better city planning and traffic management outcomes.

Governments must invest in the idea of “data as a public good” so it can work to enhance human rights.

Although nascent, experiments with models for managing big data repositories are increasing.  Such repositories can encourage domestically led innovation, with local start-ups and public agencies taking the lead in developing appropriate AI-based solutions for social problems.

These are pressing policy challenges, and such prediction models need to be closely and continuously tracked for possible social distortions and subject to institutional audit. The biases in AI is often the bias of humans. People will not rely on technology they do not trust.

Society needs to come together to consider these questions, explore solutions, and deploy AI that puts people first, protects human rights, and deserves the public’s trust.

Breakthroughs in technology—including artificial intelligence—can help fulfill the right to development, but digital technologies are not magic bullets; there is a strong role for governance.

The security of digital bits cannot be left to the cloud nor the internet of things, promoted by Amazon, Facebook, and Google with home hubs that can be hacked.

Civil society groups, governments, and others are rightly asking questions regarding the risks to human rights. In this age of global corporate presence and influence, we need to ensure that ordinary people and communities are able to stand up for their rights.

But the danger with artificial intelligence is greater than just our rights.

Everything that makes who we are comes from our brains. Without brain power, we would not have gone from flint arrowheads to the space station.


All human comments appreciated. All like clicks chucked in the bin.