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Human Rights + Technology: A Community Consultation with the Australian Human Rights Commission

On Wednesday 20 March 2019, the Whitlam Institute hosted a Community Consultation on Human Rights and Technology, as part of a major review by the Australian Human Rights Commission. Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow and Whitlam Institute Director Leanne Smith discussed the implications of emerging technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Human Rights, and the large audience was also invited to share their thoughts and questions.

Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow led with a thought provoking conversation. He suggested that to date, we have focused largely on the risk to our privacy but there are other human rights at stake in relation to AI and emerging tech, and these cut to the core of what it means to be human. He argues that if we haven’t been able to address the harms caused by emerging technologies, the technology isn’t ready to be used, because each mistake can mean that someone’s human rights are being violated. The views of the community members included:

  • There is a growing concern around AI’s impact on jobs and the new skill sets that roles will require to adapt to the introduction of AI technology.

  • Work needs to be done to address the inherent bias in AI technology, particularly when it is being used for surveillance and as a tool for police.

  • The use of AI needs to be governed by clear principles that protect human rights first and foremost. Without these principles, there is significant capacity for AI have a negative impact on our rights.


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