Why Al Technologies Can Affect Human rights – Questions and Consequences

Despite the huge and progressive advances in science over the course of the last century, our understanding of nature remains far from complete. 

Whilst the so-called ‘Theory of Everything’ continues to elude even the brightest scientific minds, however, this is largely because the human mind has evolved to focus on survival and reproduction rather than unravelling the fabric of the universe.

Still, technological advancement continues at a frightening pace, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution well underway and triggering further changes in terms of how we live, work and interact with one another.

But are immersive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) infringing on human rights, and how do innovators strike the balance between driving evolution and protecting the interests of society.

A Brief Intro to AI and the Key Challenges

There’s no doubt that AI sits at the forefront of innovation in the digital age, with the next decade likely to see this technology take centre stage in the workplace.

In fact, it’s estimated that 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent by the year 2020, with support instead being provided by interactive chatbots and self-service technology.

Machine learning is also taking the workplace by storm, with this subset of AI helping to create more accurate and efficient processes across an array of different industries. The collation, analysis and use of information is central to these technologies, whilst there’s no doubt that businesses have access to a larger data set during the coming decade.

Whilst this offers immense opportunity for both businesses and customers alike, it also brings us onto the issue of privacy in the age of AI. 

To put this into context, the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to create a scenario where up to 34 billion devices are connected to the Internet by 2020, each of which will have the ability to track and interact with our personal data.

Given the depth of data that’s accessible online and the lack of regulation in this space, there’s little doubt that the popularisation of AI will place user’s privacy at risk. 

Children may be placed at particular risk, with the proliferation of ‘smart toys’ equipped with AI and speech recognition software that can collate data and transfer this directly to manufacturers.

What’s Next for Technology, AI and Human Rights?

Clearly, it’s important that we balance risks surrounding user privacy and facial recognition control with the benefits provided by AI, such as the way in which technology is improving the typical consumer experience and making rudimentary processes more efficient.

However, we’re arguably reaching the tipping point with AI, and this is something that was discussed at the World Economic Forum in September.

These discussions focused on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the impact of this on human rights, whilst also appraising the role of brands, innovators and legal technology experts such as Withers in maintaining privacy for end users. 

Whilst such conversations will prove helpful in ensuring that innovators continue to keep pace with technological advancement and the changing nature of privacy in the digital age, it’s important that we also recognise the complexity of understanding privacy as an abstract concept.

One of the biggest challenges will be to ensure that all privacy notices and lengthy user agreements are modified to provide far greater transparency, as this prevents customers from agreeing to wording that may place their personal data at risk.