U.N. human rights chief calls for moratorium on AI tools that threaten human rights

Sept. 16 (UPI) — The U.N. human rights chief has called for a moratorium on the sale and use of artificial intelligence systems that threaten human rights.

In a statement on Wednesday, Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, urged for the banning of AI applications that cannot be used in compliance with human rights and for a moratorium be put in place on other tools until appropriate safeguards can be established.


“Artificial intelligence can be a force for good, helping societies overcome some of the great challenges of our times. But AI technologies can have negative, even catastrophic effects if they are used without sufficient regard to how they affect people’s human rights,” she said.

The call was made as her office published a 17-page report on the widespread use of AI by governments and businesses, detailing how it can infringe upon privacy rights.

AI relies upon large data sets about the private lives of individuals that is not only exposed to businesses and governments but is also at risk of data breaches, it said.

The technology is also employed to predict human behavior and in the hands of law enforcement could be used to create profiles, identify places as likely sites of increased criminal or terrorist activities and “even flag individuals as likely suspects and future reoffenders,” according to the report.


The increased use of biometric recognition, which identifies a person based on the digital representation of their physical features including face, fingerprint, iris, voice and gait, also raises “serious concerns under international human rights law” over the possibility of incorrect identification of a person.

“More over, facial recognition technology can be used to profile individuals on the basis of their ethnicity, race, national origin, gender and other characteristics,” it said.

Remote biometric recognition, it continued, also “dramatically increases” the authorities’ ability to systematically identify and track people, infringing upon their ability to exercise the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association as well as the freedom of movement.

The technology can also interfere with one’s access to public services, it said, saying a major concern is that AI can be used to expose and punish welfare beneficiaries and undermine their individual autonomy and choice, pointing to a court case in the Netherlands as an example were a ruling banned a digital welfare fraud detection system as an infringement on the right to privacy.

“The risk of discrimination linked to AI-driven decisions — decisions that can change, define or damage human lives — is all too real,” Bachelet said, calling for legislation and regulation to rein the technology in.


The call comes more than a month after she first urged for action in July following revelations that software called Pegasus developed by Israeli firm NSO Group had spied on journalists, human rights defenders and politicians.

The Pegasus Project, a collaboration of more than 80 journalists from 17 media organization, found that at least 180 journalists were targeted by the software.

NSO Group has denied the allegation.

“We cannot afford to continue playing catch-up regarding AI — allowing its use with limited or no boundaries or oversight and dealing with the almost inevitable human rights consequences after that fact,” Bachelet said Wednesday. “The power of AI to serve people is undeniable, but so is AI’s ability to feed human rights violations at an enormous scale with virtually no visibility.”

“Action is needed now to put human rights guardrails on the use of AI, for the good of all of us,” she said.

Source Link: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2021/09/16/switzerland-United-Nations-High-Commissioner-for-Human-Rights-Michelle-Bachelet-calls-for-moratorium-on-artificial-intelliegence-threatens-human-rights/3691631776055/

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