Australian project to embed human rights in new technology

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Australian project to embed human rights in new technology

Harness the good, ward off the bad.

The Australian Human Rights Commission is undertaking a major effort to ensure human rights are embedded within new technologies.

The agency this week said it would look at "innovative ways" to make sure human rights are protected as technology advances.

"New technology is changing our lives faster and more dramatically than at any time in history. Artificial intelligence, big data, automation and other new technologies bring enormous economic and social benefits," the AHRC said in a statement.

"But the scope and pace of change also pose unprecedented challenges. They are already radically disrupting our social, governmental and economic systems."

Technology "exists to serve humanity" but this is not always the outcome, the AHRC said - it cited the example of an unmanned drone being used both to warn of an approaching storm, and by malicious actors to invade privacy.

"How we harness the good and guard against the risks is a human rights challenge – just as much as it is an industrial, economic, political or environmental one," it said.

The aim of the project is to come up with ways that human rights can be prioritised in the design and regulation of new technologies.

The AHRC intends to hold a conference in the middle of the year that will bring together "leading thinkers, technology and human rights experts" to discuss the impact new technologies are having on human rights.

It will also publish an issues paper to kick off a consultation period in the middle of the year.

Last year technology giant Microsoft signed an agreement with the United Nations Human Rights Office to encourage companies to operate more responsibly and to adopt the UN's guiding principles on business and human rights.

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