Commentary: How can the business & human rights movement address the human rights risks of emerging technology?

Author: Phil Bloomer & Christen Dobson, OpenGlobalRights, Published on: 16 May 2018

"Addressing the potential human rights risks of the "Fourth Industrial Revolution", 16 May 2018 

Over the last five years, technology has entered the business and human rights sphere with a power that few of us anticipated... [N]ew risks...[include] the potential of automation to free billions of us from drudgery or to decimate livelihoods; the opportunity of the gig economy to create both shared economies and responsive services, or to undermine the essential rights of workers; the power of big data to strengthen corporate due diligence, or to turbo-drive the existing prejudices and bigotry in our societies.  These stark options raise a critical question for the business and human rights movement: how can we help to ensure that no one is left behind by this transition? The choices that we, our governments, and tech companies make will determine whether essential human rights will be realised by the “fourth industrial revolution” or whether this “revolution” will result in increased violations of human rights and exacerbate inequality.

... In this new OpenGlobalRights series on technology and human rights, in partnership with the University of Washington Rule of Law Initiative and OpenGlobalRights, we encourage readers to join the debate and invite thought leaders to explain the new, positive applications and impacts of tech to our field—and there are many—alongside the allegations of abuse, and the threats to rights that emerge.

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