From tracking the spread of COVID-19 to deciding who will receive social benefits, artificial intelligence (AI) affects the lives of millions of Europeans. Automation can improve decision-making. But AI can lead to mistakes, discrimination and be hard to challenge. A new EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) report reveals confusion about the impact of AI on people’s rights. This even among organisations already using it. FRA calls on policymakers to provide more guidance on how existing rules apply to AI and ensure any future AI laws protect fundamental rights.
“AI is not infallible, it is made by people – and humans can make mistakes. That is why people need to be aware when AI is used, how it works and how to challenge automated decisions. The EU needs to clarify how existing rules apply to AI. And organisations need to assess how their technologies can interfere with people's rights both in the development and use of AI,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “We have an opportunity to shape AI that not only respects our human and fundamental rights but that also protects and promotes them.”
The FRA report ‘Getting the future right – Artificial intelligence and fundamental rights in the EU’ identifies pitfalls in the use of AI, for example in predictive policing, medical diagnoses, social services, and targeted advertising. It calls on the EU and EU countries to:
The report is part of FRA’s project on artificial intelligence and big data. It draws on over 100 interviews with public and private organisations already using AI. These include observations from experts involved in monitoring potential fundamental rights violations. Its analysis is based on real uses of AI from Estonia, Finland, France, the Netherlands and Spain.
On 14 December, FRA and the German Presidency of the Council of the EU organise a conference Doing AI the European way: Protecting fundamental rights in an era of artificial intelligence.
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