Great Ambitions. The International Debate on AI Regulation and Human Rights in the Prism of the Council of Europe’s Cahai
Philip Czech et al. (eds). European Yearbook on Human Rights 2022. Cambridge, Intersentia, pp. 225-252. ISBN: 9781839702655
16 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2022 Last revised: 17 Jan 2023
Date Written: April 4, 2022
Over the past two years, the international debate on AI regulation has clearly escalated, with several initiatives led by the United Nations, the OECD, and the Council of Europe. Furthermore, at regional level, the EU proposal on a future regulation of AI and several national strategies have created a fertile ground for a more mature and elaborate debate.
In this regard, the initiative of the Council of Europe with the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI), with its multistakeholder approach, the different legal cultures of Member States and Observers and the stakeholder participation process carried out, offers an interesting case study on the tensions underpinning the ongoing regulatory process.
Leaving aside the variety and creativity of ethical guidelines, developing binding provisions on AI entails addressing key and challenging issues related to the scope of the regulation; the interplay between international, national, and soft law; different approaches in crucial areas (dual-use, national security, deference, public sector, liability etc); and the role and nature of future AI supervisory authorities.
In this contribution, we analyse all these different elements not only from a traditional legal perspective, focused on the main outcomes of the CAHAI, but also by looking at the process and highlighting the underlying tensions, different points of view, consultation methodologies and the dynamics that make the dialogue on AI regulation an extremely interesting laboratory for human rights law.
The overall focus of our analysis is on the real ambitions that characterise the debate on AI regulation and how the initial high expectations of addressing crucial human rights issues risk being frustrated and limited to a general risk-based approach as well as a minimalist regulation which looks more to industry and economic benefits than to human rights. This, at a time when several academic researchers suggest adopting a broader perspective on the AI industry by considering its entire supply chain from a human rights standpoint, which also has relevance for the role of human rights in international business and competition.
Ultimately, our analysis also aims to underline how a human-rights-based approach does not stifle innovation but shapes it in the right direction for all the stakeholders involved, including civil society and marginalised, vulnerable groups, whose meaningful inclusion remains crucial in the regulatory debate.
Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, AI regulation, Council of Europe, Risk
JEL Classification: K00, K1, K19, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation