AI governance and human rights

Resetting the relationship
Research paper Updated 19 January 2023 Published 10 January 2023 ISBN: 978 1 78413 549 2 DOI: 10.55317/9781784135492
A man wears a virtual reality headset in front of a brightly lit black and white dotted display screen.

Kate Jones

Associate Fellow, International Law Programme

Governments and companies are already deploying AI to assist in making decisions that can have major consequences for the lives of individual citizens and societies. AI offers far-reaching benefits for human development but also presents risks. These include, among others, further division between the privileged and the unprivileged; erosion of individual freedoms through surveillance; and the replacement of independent thought and judgement with automated control.

Human rights are central to what it means to be human. They were drafted and agreed, with worldwide popular support, to define freedoms and entitlements that would allow every human being to live a life of liberty and dignity. AI, its systems and its processes have the potential to alter the human experience fundamentally. But many sets of AI governance principles produced by companies, governments, civil society and international organizations do not mention human rights at all. This is an error that requires urgent correction.

This research paper aims to dispel myths about human rights; outline the principal importance of human rights for AI governance; and recommend actions that governments, organizations, companies and individuals can take to ensure that human rights are the foundation for AI governance in future.