Commentary: “Non-technology” companies integrating AI into their business operations also need to address human rights impacts

Author: Dunstan Allison-Hope, Business for Social Responsibility, Published on: 16 May 2019

"Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights: We Need to Talk about the Use Phase", 16 May, 2019

As business, government, and civil society make progress in addressing the human rights impacts and ethical questions arising from the use of artificial intelligence (AI), we believe that one supremely important constituency needs to participate much more actively: the “non-technology” companies integrating AI into their business operations, strategies, and plans... In addition to trying to influence the actions of others, shouldn’t we also be working more directly with the companies, governments, and organizations that are directly deploying AI themselves? In the terms of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, why would we spend most of our time working with the companies that are contributing to or directly linked to human rights impacts, and much less of our time working with the companies that might be causing them? ... [For example] in the retail industry, stores are deploying AI for theft protection, creating new privacy, security, and discrimination risks, especially for vulnerable populations and marginal groups... In the hotel industry, facial recognition technologies are being used to ease the check-in process, impacting rights such as freedom of movement... Companies in all these industries should be taking a human rights-based approach to their use of AI. 

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