Technology and Human Rights

Artificial intelligence, automation, and the gig economy can free us from drudgery, enrich our leisure, and build societies of shared prosperity. They have equal potential to create mass unemployment, hollow-out lives, and worsen inequality.

 

Putting human rights at the core of this new wave of technology in global markets will help define which road we choose. This new portal will be a digital platform for dialogue and action on this choice.

 

Phil Bloomer, Executive Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Technology can be a powerful tool for human rights. Increased access to the internet and the development of social media tools have enabled activists to organise and spread their message more quickly and to broader audiences. Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, may significantly expand the availability and quality of data upon which to make informed decisions for the benefit of society. Supporters of these technologies believe that they will unleash new opportunities, increase efficiency, and help maximise human potential.

At the same time, rapid developments in artificial intelligence, automation and robotics raise serious questions about potential impacts on human rights and the future of work, as well as who will benefit and lose from their expansion. There is a risk that the use of machines to increase productivity will result in mounting inequality through downward pressure on wages and loss of jobs. The growth of the “gig economy”, facilitated by technology, has contributed to changing the nature of work by increasing the availability of flexible positions that provide opportunities for some while negatively affecting the livelihoods of others. In addition, the mass collection of data can lead to violations of the right to privacy and make it easier for governments to monitor the activities of activists.  

Many of these impacts are yet unknown. Human rights organisations are currently exploring how to ensure that these technological advances can benefit all people and do not exacerbate inequality for those who are already among the most marginalised.

Get RSS feed of these results

Related stories and components

Article
11 August 2017

Judge dismisses lawsuit seeking to block law allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to form unions

Author: Jeremy B. White, Independent (UK)

In a ruling that helps define the rights of labourers in the booming gig economy, a federal judge has dismissed a legal challenge to a Seattle ordinance allowing drivers-for-hire to form unions. The lawsuit parallels a national fight over the rights of...

Read more

Story
11 August 2017

USA: District Judge's decision upholds new unionisation law for Uber & Lyft drivers in Seattle

See full story

Article
3 August 2017

Digital Rights group calls on Blackstone to drop plans to invest in NSO Group

Author: Access Now

Today Access Now called on The Blackstone Group to halt its pending deal with NSO Group, a purveyor of surveillance technology that has been used by governments to spy on activists around the world... Access Now is circulating a public petition calling...

Read more

Article
1 August 2017

Judge tosses U.S. Chamber lawsuit over Seattle’s Uber union law, but dispute isn’t over yet

Author: Nat Levy, Geekwire (USA)

Seattle’s first-of-its-kind unionization law for drivers of services like Uber and Lyft got a big win in court Tuesday when a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought against the controversial ordinance by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce....

Read more

Article
30 July 2017

Apple’s Silence in China Sets a Dangerous Precedent

Author: Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

…Apple pulled down several VPN apps — programs that allow iPhone users to bypass the Chinese government’s censorship apparatus — from its Chinese App Store…Apple’s only public statement on the VPN ban said that the company had been “required to remove...

Read more

Article
24 July 2017

Gig economy: Australia & UK regulations compared

Author: anine Young & Anthony Forsyth, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, in Mondaq (Aus)

The recent Fair Work Commission (FWC) Full Bench decision to insert casual conversion clauses in modern awards, and the Report of the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices in the UK, are responses to the same world-wide phenomena... businesses are...

Read more

Article
24 July 2017

How Emerging Markets And Blockchain Can Bring An End To Poverty

Author: Nikolai Kuznetsov, Forbes

"According to the World Bank, in 2013, 10.7 percent of the global population lived on less than $1.90 a day. While these figures have been in decline over the last few years, that percentage still equates to around 750 million people. Financial...

Read more

Article
24 July 2017

UK: Govt. exported surveillance technology to Turkey amid arrests of journalists & human rights defenders

Author: Joseph Cox, Motherboard

"The UK Granted Spy Tech Export to Turkey Amid Its Massive Crackdown on Dissent"...

Read more

Article
11 July 2017

Taylor Review: All work in UK economy should be fair

Author: BBC

...The report by former aide to Tony Blair, Matthew Taylor, pays particular attention to the gig economy...recommends that workers for firms such as Uber and Deliveroo should be classified as dependent contractors, with extra benefits. The Prime...

Read more

Article
11 July 2017

Taylor review: Unions criticise gig economy report for failure to deliver on promises, mixed responses from business groups & lawyers

Author: Ben Chapman, Independent (UK)

"Taylor review: Unions slam gig economy report for 'spectacular failure' to deliver on promises while business groups and lawyers have given a mixed response"...

Read more