15 December 2019

Video blog by Michael O'Flaherty: artificial intelligence

In the latest edition of his video blog, FRA Director Michael O'Flaherty speaks about the human rights challenges, but also the opportunities, that come along with the development of artificial intelligence technology.

Everybody is talking about artificial intelligence these days. And so they should. Its capacity to transform our lives is almost beyond our imagination.

Just take for example the possibility of finding cures to currently uncurable diseases. But with all the good of course comes great risk as well.

Artificial intelligence raises issues of just about any of all of our basic human rights. Take for example the issue of facial recognition technology. Yes, it can be socially useful, but it’s got to be used properly. And we are concerned for example about the need to specify the different roles it has in different contexts. We need the chance for people to review and question outcomes that are drawn from it. We need to make sure that the algorithms that interpret faces are not in themselves discriminatory.

Given the risk associated with the rollout of artificial intelligence, I greatly welcome the focus of attention by the European Commission, the Council of Europe and others.

And as they help us navigate our way into the future I am also clear on three things.

The first is that while I don’t know what kind of regulation we need, we do need a rulebook to guide us in this such sensitive of areas.

Secondly, that rulebook needs to be founded not primarily on ethics, what’s good or wrong, fair or unfair, but needs to be based on human rights law. It needs to reflect online those commitments that our states have entered into in treaties.

And third and finally, we need to do a better job in knowing what we are talking about, of more clearly mapping out what it means to say that AI effects all these different aspects of our lives. We are just at the beginning of what will be a long journey.