Artificial Intelligence and International Human Rights Law: Implications for Humans and Technology in the 21st Century and Beyond
Gellers, J.C. & Gunkel, D. (2022). "Artificial Intelligence and International Human Rights Law: Implications for Humans and Technology in the 21st Century and Beyond." In A. Zwitter and O.J. Gstrein (Eds.), Handbook on the Politics and Governance of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. Cheltenham:
29 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2022
Date Written: April 1, 2022
Emerging technologies and global nonhuman rights movements pose a stress test for the corpus of international human rights law (IHRL). On the one hand, technologies are being implemented quicker than policymakers can adopt regulations protecting humans from their potentially harmful effects. On the other hand, nonhuman rights movements are redefining who (or what) is entitled to moral and legal recognition. Are rights as we currently conceive of them up to the challenge of fostering a just society in light of these developments? The deployment of autonomous systems has primarily animated concerns about their impacts on civil and political rights like those pertaining to assembly, free speech, and privacy. Reports about artificial intelligence (AI) being used to identify protestors and chill freedom of expression serve as cases in point. But novel technologies also hold implications for second, third, and fourth generation human rights as well. For instance, news headlines about likely widespread job losses due to automation suggest an infringement upon the right to work and may require substantial investments in education for those affected by market forces. Perhaps more controversially, the advent of autonomous systems has generated discussions about whether or not rights should be extended to technological entities. The increasing presence of robots in classrooms, homes, and medical facilities will generate new social situations and conflicts that may be resolved through the proactive application of rights to a different class of subject. This conversation has occurred against a backdrop of parallel initiatives promoting the rights of other nonhumans, namely animals and nature. How might these developments influence the question of rights for AI? This chapter offers a refreshed look at these two sides of the rights coin with respect to autonomous systems. First, we review the philosophical foundations of rights. Second, we present methodological and critical insights regarding extant literature before using a two-step framework to systematically highlight less obvious ways in which emerging technologies like AI intersect with IHRL. Third, we explore the opportunities and challenges of extending rights to technological beings. We conclude with a call to enlarge the ontological scope of rights on theoretical and practical levels, and offer recommendations designed to assist in the governance of autonomous systems with an eye toward protecting the rights of human and nonhuman entities alike.
Keywords: artificial intelligence, human rights, international law, technology, governance, autonomous systems, robots
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