Edward Santow, the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, is leading the Human Rights and Technology Project. 

The Project aims to advance human rights protection in the context of unprecedented technological change. It considers how law, policy, incentives and other measures can promote and protect human rights in respect of new and emerging technologies. 

The Commission is currently the only independent Australian government body, and one of the only organisations globally, using a human rights approach and public consultation to address the impacts of new and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence. 

The Commission also seeks to collaborate with and support concurrent inquiry processes relating to new technologies in Australia and internationally.

To date, the Project has:

  • reached an audience of over 13,000 people across 70 of the Commissioner’s speaking events, nationally and internationally 
  • undertaken research and consulted with several hundred stakeholders from government, business, civil society and academia on how best to respond to the human rights challenges and opportunities presented by new and emerging technologies
  • identified significant ways in which our human rights are affected by new and emerging technologies, particularly in the area of AI-informed decision making and accessibility technology for people with disability
  • proposed legal and policy areas for reform. This will be the subject of further public consultation in early 2020.

A Final Report is due in 2020, following which the Commission will work with the Australian Government and other stakeholders to support implementation of its final recommendations. 


Conference videos



Welcome to Country
Welcome to Country, Gadigal Elder, Uncle Charles (Chicka) Madden

Edward Santow, Human Rights Commissioner


Setting the scene: What role for human rights in a new age of technology?

An Australian perspective

Dr Alan Finkel AO, Chief Scientist of Australia

An international industry perspective

Kathy Baxter, User Research Architect, Salesforce

Panel 1 - Do androids dream of electric sheep? Deep dive on AI

This session examined the human rights impacts of artificial intelligence.

Topics will include:

• Algorithmic decision making and bias 
• AI and the justice system
• Big data including collection, availability, sharing and use


• Professor Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence, UNSW Sydney and Data61
• Kathy Baxter, User Research Architect, Salesforce 
• Jake Lucchi, Head of Content and AI, Public Policy and Government Relations, Google Asia Pacific

Panel 2 - Human rights by design: Responsible innovation

This session will examine a human rights by design approach to foster responsible innovation.

Topics will include:

• Innovative ways to protect human rights through the design and development of emerging technologies
• Business and public sector accountability 
• Governance and responsible innovation


• Professor Mary-Anne Williams, Director of the Innovation and Enterprise Research Laboratory (The Magic Lab), University of Technology Sydney
• Brett Solomon, Executive Director, Access Now 
• Julie Inman Grant, eSafety Commissioner

Food for thought: How to be human in the digital world

Exploring the social and individual impacts of new and emerging technologies.

Fireside chat:

• Professor Genevieve Bell, Director, 3A Institute, Australian National University and Senior Fellow, Intel 
• Jake Lucchi, Head of Content and AI, Public Policy and Government Relations, Google Asia Pacific 

Panel 3 - Inclusion Riders: People with disabilities and technology

This session will examine the impact of emerging technology for people with disabilities. 

Topics will include:

• Lived experiences of people with disabilities and technology including challenges and opportunities 
• Adaptation by humans and our machines


• Emma Bennison, Executive Officer, Blind Citizens Australia
• Manisha Amin, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Inclusive Design
• Alastair McEwin, Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission

Panel 4 - The Invisible Revolution: Utopia, dystopia and the many faces of tomorrow

This session will examine the implications of emerging technology for Internet freedoms, democracy and free speech.

Topics will include:

• Free speech, social media, fake news and democracy 
• Internet freedoms, net neutrality and encryption 
• Internet governance and rights-based frameworks


• Dr. Tobias Feakin, Australian Ambassador for Cyber Affairs
• Michelle Guthrie, Managing Director, ABC
• Professor Joseph Cannataci, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, United Nations

Closing keynotes – How do we rise to the challenges? How do we embrace the opportunities?


• Steve Crown, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Human Rights, Microsoft
• Aza Raskin, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Center for Humane Technology