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Commentary: Toronto Declaration aims to put human rights front & centre in development & application of machine learning technologies

"New human rights principles on artificial intelligence," 15 August 2018

In May 2018, Amnesty InternationalAccess Now, and a handful of partner organizations launched the Toronto Declaration on protecting the right to equality and non-discrimination in machine learning systems. The Declaration... seeks to apply existing international human rights standards to the development and use of machine learning systems (or “artificial intelligence”)... One of the most significant risks with machine learning is the danger of amplifying existing bias and discrimination against certain groups—often marginalized and vulnerable communities, who already struggle to be treated with dignity and respect. When historical data is used to train machine learning systems without safeguards, ML systems can reinforce and even augment existing structural bias.

... When Amnesty started examining the nexus of artificial intelligence and human rights, we were quickly struck by two things: ... there appeared to be a widespread and genuine interest in the ethical issues around AI... [and] human rights standards were largely missing from the debate on the ethics of AI... The Toronto Declaration... sets out the duties of states to prevent discrimination in the context of designing or implementing machine learning systems; ... outlines the responsibilities of private actors in the context of the development and deployment of ML systems;... [and] asserts the right to an effective remedy.