CAHAI’s Report on the Impact of AI on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law

On June 24th, 2020, the Council of Europe’s Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI) published a report, written by Catelijne Muller (President of ALLAI and Member of the EU High-Level expert group on AI), and entitled “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law”. This paper follows several papers at the European level, including the European Economic and Social Committee’s (EESC) opinion on AI and Society, the High-Level Expert Group on AI’s Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI and the European Commission’s White paper on artificial intelligence.

The report is divided in five parts:

  1. Introductory remarks
  2. Defining AI
  3. Impact of AI on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law
  4. How to address the impact of AI on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law?
  5. What if current human rights, democracy and the rule of law fail to adequately protect us?

In Part II, the report underlines the difficulties arising from the difference between the legal and the scientific definitions of AI:

“A complicating factor is that legal definitions differ from pure scientific definitions whereas they should meet a number of requirements (such as inclusiveness, preciseness, comprehensiveness, practicability, permanence), some of which are legally binding, and some are considered good regulatory practice”.

Part III analyses some interesting legal issues challenging existing international instruments. The report analyses the impact of AI on the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), its protocols and the European Social Charter (ECS). It notably focuses on: the respect for human value; the freedom of the individual; equality, non-discrimination and solidarity; social and economic rights; democracy; and the rule of law.

In Part IV, the report suggests some solutions to address the impact of AI on Human Rights. For example, it considers to develop a “new culture of “Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law by design””, which could be “underpinned by a (legal) obligation to perform an AI Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law Impact Assessment”. It also advises to grant an effective remedy in case of a human rights violation as a result of AI, and to prevent system risks such as inequality or election influence.

Finally, in Part V, the report “looks at strategies, should the existing framework fail to adequately protect us”. It notably considers new AI-related human rights, bans and red lines.



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