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Commission launches Human Rights and Technology Discussion Paper

Graphic: Image of a robot opening its hand

The paper makes wide-ranging proposals for safeguarding human rights and encouraging accessible and accountable use of new technology in Australia.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has launched the Human Rights and Technology Discussion Paper, which makes wide-ranging proposals for safeguarding human rights and encouraging accessible, equal and accountable use of new technology in Australia.

Drawing on extensive community and expert consultation, the discussion paper sets out a template for change on how artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies are developed and used in Australia.

It proposes practical improvements in applying existing human rights and consumer protections to the development and use of new technologies.

"Accountability and the rule of law are fundamental to Australia's democracy. We need to uphold these principles more effectively in how AI is developed and used," Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow said.

"Emerging technologies can bring great societal benefits, but people are starting to realise their personal information can also be used against them.

"In the last year we've seen troubling examples of emerging technology being 'beta tested' on vulnerable members of our community, and we've seen AI used to make high-stakes decisions that have had serious human rights impacts on individuals both in Australia and overseas," he said.

Mr Santow said it was vital that Australians had a say on the direction and safeguards associated with new technologies.

"The decisions we make now will be critical in defining how we live in the immediate future," he said.

Proposals for discussion range from a moratorium on potentially harmful use of facial recognition technology in Australia and the creation of an AI Safety Commissioner.

The Discussion Paper also proposes that where AI is used to make a significant decision, any affected individual should be able to understand the basis of the decision and, if necessary, challenge it.

The Human Rights and Technology Discussion Paper is available at: tech.humanrights.gov.au.

Date: 17 December 2019

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission


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  1. Image of a robot opening its hand - Franck V on Unsplash