Push to insert human rights into emerging tech

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Push to insert human rights into emerging tech

Human Rights Commission wants answers.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has formally kicked off a major push to embed human rights into developing and current technology and wants to know from the community which areas are of most concern.

The agency today began public consultation on its project to come up with ways that human rights can be prioritised in the design and regulation of new technologies.

It will use the two-year project to “consider how law, policy, incentives and other measures can be used to promote human rights”, before developing a roadmap for reform.

Using an issues paper [pdf] to initially gauge “which forms of technology most urgently engage human rights”, the project aims to “analyse the social impact of technology”, with a particular focus on emerging technology.

The Commission will be guided by the World Economic Forum’s list of 12 technologies most deserving of attention, but has already highlighted technology like facial recognition and artificial intelligence, which are increasingly being used by governments and private enterprise.

It said these “pose unprecedented challenges to privacy, freedom of expression and equality”.

“Facial recognition technology, artificial intelligence that predicts the future, neural network computing ... these are no longer science fiction,” Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow said in the report’s foreward.

“These developments promise enormous economic and social benefits. But the scope and pace of change also pose profound challenges.

“Technology should exist to serve humanity. Whether it does will depend on how it is deployed, by whom and to what end.”

The Commission will research and consult on “how Australian law should protect human rights in the development and use of new technologies” and identify issues and challenges.

It will focus on a limited number of issue “so that the recommendations ultimately made by the Commission are practical and informed by in-depth research”.

Particular areas for consideration include reforming legislation to address gaps in Australian laws, particularly AI-informed decision making, as well as integrating accessibility standards in new technology.

The consultation period will close on October 2, with a discussion paper to be published in early 2019 and final report to be delivered in late 2019.

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