AI systems can have ‘catastrophic effects’ on human rights, UN says

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The United Nations has urged a ban on artificial intelligence systems, such as face scanning and social credit systems, which can be a threat to human rights.

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High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said countries should ban AI applications that do not comply with international law.

Applications that should be banned include government “social scoring” systems that judge people based on their behavior and some AI-based tools that classify people into groups such as ethnicity or gender.


AI-based technologies can be a force for good, Bachelet said in a statement, but they can have “negative, even devastating, effects if they are used without adequate attention to How they affect the human rights of the people.”

His remarks coincided with a new United Nations report that examines how countries and businesses are implementing AI systems without instituting appropriate safeguards to prevent discrimination and other harms that affect people’s lives. and affect livelihoods.

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He did not call for a ban on facial recognition technology outright, but said governments should stop scanning people’s features in real time until they can show that the technology is accurate, will not discriminate and Some will not meet privacy and data protection standards.

While the report did not name countries, China in particular is among countries that have introduced facial recognition technology – particularly as part of surveillance in the western region of Xinjiang where many of its minority Uighurs live. Huh.

The report also warns about tools that try to deduce people’s emotional and mental states by analyzing their facial expressions or body movements, adding that such technology is susceptible to bias, misinterpretations And there is a lack of scientific basis.

“The use of emotion recognition systems by public authorities, for example to isolate individuals for police stops or arrests or to assess the veracity of statements during interrogation, risks undermining human rights, such as the right to privacy, Rights to liberty and fairness test,” the report says.

The report’s recommendations echo the thinking of many political leaders in Western democracies, who hope to harness the economic and social potential of AI while addressing growing concerns about the reliability of tools that track and profile individuals. and make recommendations about who has access to jobs, loans. and educational opportunities.

European regulators have already taken steps to rein in risky AI applications. Proposed rules outlined by EU officials this year would ban some uses of AI, such as real-time scanning of facial features, and strictly control others that could put people’s safety or rights at risk.

President Joe Biden’s administration has expressed similar concerns about such applications, although it has not yet outlined a detailed approach to reducing them. A newly formed group called the Trade and Technology Council, jointly led by US and European officials, has sought to collaborate in developing common rules for AI and other technology policy.

Efforts to set limits on the riskiest uses have been backed by Microsoft and other US tech giants, which are expected to guide regulations affecting the technology they helped create.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said during a virtual conference in June, “If you think about the ways that AI can be used in a discriminatory way, or to further reinforce the discriminatory trend, it’s pretty scary.” Is.” “We have to make sure we don’t let that happen.”

She was speaking with Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s executive vice-president for the digital age, who suggested that some AI uses should be completely off-limits in “democracies like ours”, such as the societal scoring that affects anyone in society. privilege, and “the widespread, widespread use of remote biometric identification in public spaces.”

She said that there’s something fundamental about being able to say, “I live in a real society. I’m not living in a trailer for a horror movie whose ending I don’t want to see.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press


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