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Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies - European University Institute

Research beyond the hype: the interplay between human rights and AI

On 6 December 2023, the editors and several authors of the book 'Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights' presented the volume while discussing the effects of AI on specific areas of rights.

10 December 2023 | Event - Research - Video

The presentation, part of the Talk series organised by the Centre for a Digital Society, started with an introduction by Alberto Quintavalla, co-editor of the book. He outlined the main findings of the research endeavour, aiming to map the complex relationship between artificial intelligence and human rights. Questioning the nature of their interaction, Quintavalla explained that the impact is neither one-sided nor solely positive or negative. Artificial intelligence does not solely shape human rights; rather, the influence is reciprocal.

“Human rights can be used as a standard to measure the societal acceptance of AI technology as well as provide certain guidance and identify the barriers” Quintavalla remarked.

Given that human rights norms predate artificial intelligence technology, certain gaps exist. This void, coupled with the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence in recent years, raises serious concerns about human rights violations and potential risks. Furthermore, it prompts inquiry into whether the human rights framework is suitable for assessing AI-related issues, risks, and opportunities.

In this context, the book establishes a distinction that helps to categorise risks. It separates structural risks (stemming from the nature and design of AI itself) from functional risks, which result from AI's transformative effect on our daily lives and are more connected to normative concerns, and therefore more dependent on content.

This differentiation guides the development of human rights norms and indicates the governance level at which each risk or concern should be addressed. While structural risks require a higher governance level, functional risks could be approached differently according on the context.

Over 80 people participated in the online event, which was followed by a more detailed analysis of specific human rights, such as health, the right to privacy, data protection, and Facial Recognition Technology; disability rights, and fair trial rights.

The authors paid special attention to covering both the positive and adverse relationships between the two fields at each stage of the artificial intelligence systems' lifecycle (design, development, and deployment) and across various levels of human rights projects: international, national, and regional. Moreover, the book 'Human Rights and Artificial Intelligence' fills a gap in the literature by exploring first, second-, and third-generation human rights.

Check the upcoming events of the Centre for a Digital Society.

Last update: 10 December 2023

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