Human Rights and Technology
The submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in response to its ‘Human Rights and Technology Issues Paper’, released in July 2018 was prepared by the Law Council of Australia.
New technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things, and virtual reality have the potential both to promote and threaten the protection of human rights. For example, AI may improve human rights by making access to justice more affordable and may remove human bias in decision making. However, it may also introduce the risk of design biases being built into systems, a lack of transparency and the loss of discretion in decision making.
The Issues Paper identifies a suite of human rights that new technologies might affect, from the right to education, to the right to a fair trial, to the right to benefit from scientific progress. Key points raised by the Law Council in responding to the matters set out in the Issues Paper include:
- the digital divide has the potential to result in already-marginalised groups missing out on new opportunities or facing further systemic disadvantage;
- new technologies have the potential to assist in access to justice, however a nuanced, evidence-based and people-centred approach is needed to avoid leaving digitally excluded groups behind;
- decision making informed by AI may improve human rights by improving access to justice and may remove human bias in decision making. However, it may also introduce the risk of design biases being built into a system and a lack of transparency in decision making;
- laws protecting individuals against breach of privacy have not kept pace with technological developments, and there is a need for such protections to be reviewed and reformed; and
- the Law Council considers that the best approach to the development of legislation to respond to new technologies is for principle-based laws that allow for flexibility and adaptability.
You can read the full submission below.