Artificial Intelligence and the future of human rights


By: Md. Shawkat Alam Faisal

“Technology must be harnessed to serve justice, not undermine it. The intersection of AI and human rights demands a judicious approach to prevent unintended consequences”, Chief Justice John Roberts.

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into our daily lives necessitates a profound exploration of its implications on the foundational principles of human rights. The merits and demerits of AI in the context of human rights necessitate vigilant scrutiny, guided by the principles articulated in the UDHR. With the wisdom of legal luminaries echoing in our ears, we must navigate this intricate terrain, ensuring that AI becomes an instrument for the augmentation rather than the erosion of human rights.

AI’s progress is characterized by a dichotomy of promise and peril. On the one hand, AI has demonstrated unprecedented advancements, contributing to breakthroughs in medical diagnostics, communication, and efficiency across various sectors. However, this progress comes hand in hand with ethical complexities that demand meticulous consideration, particularly in light of the principles outlined in the UDHR.

AI, as a transformative force, facilitates access to information and knowledge, thus empowering individuals to exercise their rights. The right to freedom of expression, a key component of Article 19 of the UDHR, can be bolstered through AI-driven advancements in communication and information dissemination.

AI applications in healthcare contribute to the realization of the right to health. From predictive diagnostics to personalized treatment plans, AI holds the potential to enhance the quality and accessibility of healthcare, aligning with the principles of the UDHR under Article 25.

AI has the capability to streamline judicial processes, offering the potential for more efficient and accessible legal systems. This aligns with the UDHR’s emphasis on the right to a fair and public hearing acknowledged in Article 10, as expeditious legal proceedings contribute to the realization of justice.

The right to privacy, a bedrock of human rights recognized in Article 12, faces unprecedented challenges in the era of AI-driven surveillance technologies. Facial recognition, predictive analytics, and ubiquitous data collection pose significant threats to individual privacy. Meritoriously, AI technologies can enhance security measures, aiding in crime prevention and public safety. However, the demerit lies in the potential for unchecked surveillance, eroding the right to be free from unwarranted intrusion.

The right to autonomy, intrinsic to human dignity, encounters new challenges with the rise of algorithmic decision-making. AI algorithms, while streamlining processes, also carry the inherent risk of bias and discrimination.

Meritoriously, AI has the potential to reduce human error and enhance decision-making efficiency. However, the demerit arises when opaque algorithms perpetuate societal inequalities and undermine the principles of fairness and justice.

The right to work, a fundamental aspect of the UDHR under Article 23, undergoes a transformation with the advent of AI-driven automation. The merits include increased efficiency and productivity, potentially leading to economic growth. However, the demerit lies in the displacement of jobs, exacerbating economic disparities. Ensuring just and favorable conditions of work for all becomes a crucial task to balance the scales between technological progress and human rights.

In navigating the ethical frontiers of AI and human rights, an imperative emerges for the establishment of responsible AI practices. Collaboration among governments, industries, and researchers is meritorious in crafting frameworks that prioritize fairness, transparency, and accountability. Ethical considerations embedded in AI design and deployment can be a merit, fostering a harmonious coexistence between technological progress and the enduring values of the UDHR.

As we stand at the crossroads of technological innovation and human rights, the 75th anniversary of the UDHR compels us to engage in a nuanced dialogue. While AI brings about undeniable merits in enhancing efficiency and advancing various fields, its demerits lie in the potential erosion of privacy, autonomy, and economic equality. Striking a delicate balance between progress and ethical considerations is imperative for shaping a future where AI unequivocally aligns with the principles enshrined in the UDHR.

“In every generation, people must do their part to uphold the principles of justice and liberty. In the age of AI, our duty is to ensure that technological advancements don’t compromise these principles”, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Md. Shawkat Alam Faisal, is an LL.B (Hons.) Graduate and LL.M (International Law) Candidate at the Department of Law, University of Rajshahi.


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