A Study of the Implications of Advanced Digital Technologies (Including AI Systems) for the Concept of Responsibility Within a Human Rights Framework

Report by Karen Yeung: “This study was commissioned by the Council of Europe’s Committee of experts on human rights dimensions of automated data processing and different forms of artificial intelligence (MSI-AUT). It was prompted by concerns about the potential adverse consequences of advanced digital technologies (including artificial intelligence (‘AI’)), particularly their impact on the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. This draft report seeks to examine the implications of these technologies for the concept of responsibility, and this includes investigating where responsibility should lie for their adverse consequences. In so doing, it seeks to understand (a) how human rights and fundamental freedoms protected under the ECHR may be adversely affected by the development of AI technologies and (b) how responsibility for those risks and consequences should be allocated. 

Its methodological approach is interdisciplinary, drawing on concepts and academic scholarship from the humanities, the social sciences and, to a more limited extent, from computer science. It concludes that, if we are to take human rights seriously in a hyperconnected digital age, we cannot allow the power of our advanced digital technologies and systems, and those who develop and implement them, to be accrued and exercised without responsibility. Nations committed to protecting human rights must therefore ensure that those who wield and derive benefits from developing and deploying these technologies are held responsible for their risks and consequences. This includes obligations to ensure that there are effective and legitimate mechanisms that will operate to prevent and forestall violations to human rights which these technologies may threaten, and to attend to the health of the larger collective and shared socio-technical environment in which human rights and the rule of law are anchored….(More)”.