Fighting AI Discrimination

February 2020

Everyone agrees that artificial intelligence has the potential to dramatically improve people’s lives. But what if, intentionally or not, it also reinforces their biases?

That’s the concern raised by a paper published in September 2019 by the Berlin think-tank Stiftung Neue Verantwortung (New Responsibility Foundation). The essay is titled “Artificial Intelligence Needs Human Rights.” It says that the debate on how to make AI “ethical” has ignored other problems such the replication of cultural prejudices in algorithms.

Citing the dominance of American and Chinese developers of AI, the paper’s authors argue: “We  must  stop  focusing  the  discourse  on  ethical  principles,  and  instead  shift  the  debate  to  human  rights.”

They add: “If AI  technologies  were  subject  to  scrutiny  on  the  international  stage  as  violations of human rights, rather than just harmful and unethical, then there would be more enforcement mechanisms with which to regulate the key innovators and perpetrators.”

Robot with artificial intelligence © Getty Images/Westend61