It’s happening now.

Emerging technologies like facial recognition, artificial intelligence and self-driving cars are no longer science fiction. While there are significant challenges, the rapid development of new technologies also has the potential to transform the lives of people with disability. 

Although these emerging technologies promise enormous economic and social benefits, the scope and pace of change also pose profound challenges.

As technology reshapes our world, we must seize the opportunities this present to advance human rights by making Australia fairer and more inclusive. However, we must also be alive to, and guard against, the threat that new technology could worsen inequality and disadvantage.

The Australian Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow is leading a major project on human rights and technology (the Project) that explores the impacts and opportunities of these new technologies to protect and promote our rights and freedoms.

The Project is developing innovative ways of ensuring that the rapid rise of technology protects and promotes human rights. The Project is facilitating, guiding, and leading the public conversation on how to protect human rights in an area of unprecedented technological development. Working with partners and stakeholders, the Commission has identified artificial intelligence and inclusive and accessible technology as the two key areas of focus.

Current Issues

Through inclusive consultation, we will identify the most pressing human rights issues in respect of new technology.
We are exploring issues such as AI, bias, Big Data, inclusive technology, and the intersection between technology, free speech and democracy.

Decision making and artificial intelligence 

Algorithms have been used in the US to assist judges to make bail and sentencing decisions, which have been found to be biased against racial minorities.

What is the impact of technology on human rights?

Responsible innovation 

In November 2017, the UK Government announced it would establish the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, the world’s first national advisory body on ethical and safe AI.

How do we protect human rights in the digital age?

Accessible Technology 

Voice-activated AI, including voice recognition software and virtual assistants, can be examples of inclusive design in technology. For people with vision impairment, these technologies can change lives, although they can also threaten privacy and other rights.

How do we use tech for good?

Human Rights and Technology

In 2018, Cambridge Analytica was accused of harvesting personal data from tens of millions of Facebook users and using this information to influence elections.
How do we encourage responsible innovation of technology?