Ensuring that Human Rights are central to AI regulation and governance

A key part of HRBDT’s work is to show how human rights are both affected by the design, development and deployment of data analytics and AI technologies and can offer solutions to the regulation and governance of these technologies by states and businesses.

In March 2019, HRBDT launched its report, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70, authored by Prof Lorna McGregor, Vivian Ng and Dr Ahmed Shaheed et al, during a side event HRBDT organised with the Universal Rights Group and sponsored by Germany and South Korea at the UN Human Rights Council during its 40th session. The report demonstrates the potential for all human rights to be affected by the use of big data and AI and makes the case for a human rights-based approach in the governance and regulation of AI. The report is accompanied by an animation which can be viewed here.

The contribution of human rights to the governance and regulation of AI was also illustrated in Prof Lorna McGregor, Dr Daragh Murray and Vivian Ng’s article, ‘International Human Rights Law as a Framework for Algorithmic Accountability’, published in April in the International and Comparative Law Quarterly. To launch this article, Lorna and Daragh were joined by Dr Lina Dencik and Petra Molnar for a panel discussion at the Royal Society, London on “Algorithmic Accountability and Human Rights”. The panellists discussed the impact of AI on different areas of life, with a particular focus on data justice and immigration decisions. A recording of the event is available here.

Lorna also made the case for human rights to be a central part of the governance and regulation of AI at a range of key international meetings, including at a session on the ‘Future of Human Rights in the Governance of Artificial Intelligence’ at Rights Con 2019 organised by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University; the Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, as well as in HRBDT submissions to the UN Secretary-General High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation and the UK Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

Highlighting the focus on achieving real world impact of our research, Lorna also carried out trainings for BT staff on the human rights impacts of the use of digital technologies.

She also published a blog on the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Humanitarian Law and Policy Blog on ‘The Need for Clear Governance Frameworks on Predictive Algorithms in Military Settings’.

In 2020, HRBDT will be producing an analysis of the role of human rights in national AI strategies and on how the UNGPs can be operationalised in the tech sector.
Prof Lorna McGregor speaks at the Royal Society panel discussion