UN calls for moratorium on AI that threatens human rights

Artificial intelligence systems are used to determine who gets public services and decide who has a chance to be hired for a job, the UN rights chief said, warning that the data collected can be compromised, out of date and even discriminatory.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday called for a moratorium on the sale and use of artificial intelligence (AI) systems that threaten human rights until adequate safeguards are in place to ensure that no technology is abused.

“We cannot afford to keep catching up on AI, allowing its use with or without limited limits or supervision, and dealing with the almost inevitable human rights consequences after the fact,” Bachelet said in a Press release.

The UN human rights office published a report on Wednesday he warned of the risks of AI technologies, emphasizing that while AI can serve as a force for good, it can also cause catastrophic effects if used irresponsibly.

“The complexity of the data environment, algorithms and models that underlie the development and operation of artificial intelligence systems, as well as the intentional secrecy of government and private actors are factors that undermine meaningful ways for the public to understand the Effects of artificial intelligence systems on human rights and society. ”Says the report.

Bachelet, who is the UN human rights chief, stressed that artificial intelligence applications that do not comply with international human rights law should be banned.

“The power of AI to serve people is undeniable, but so is AI’s ability to fuel human rights violations on a massive scale and with virtually no visibility. It is necessary to act now to put barriers to protect human rights in the use of AI, for the good of all of us ”, emphasized Bachelet.

AI’s abilities to profile and automate decision-making, as well as its other uses, threaten myriad human rights. It may affect “rights to health, education, freedom of movement, freedom of peaceful assembly and association and freedom of expression,” the UN human rights office warned.

“Artificial intelligence systems are used to determine who gets public services, decide who has a chance to be hired for a job, and of course affect the information that people see and can share online,” the high commissioner said. .

The report expresses deep concern that some countries and the private sector are embracing AI applications without first studying the myriad risks of the technology.

There have already been some dangerous mistakes, the UN office said, pointing to cases where people were denied social security benefits or arrested due to faulty facial recognition.

Artificial intelligence systems often collect, share, merge, and analyze data in an opaque way. The information AI collects can be compromised, out of date, and even discriminatory.

“The risk of discrimination linked to AI-driven decisions, decisions that can change, define or harm human lives, is all too real,” Bachelet said. “This is why systematic evaluation and monitoring of the effects of artificial intelligence systems is necessary to identify and mitigate human rights risks.”


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