Jusoor International for Media and Development and the Arab-European Forum for Dialogue and Human Rights conducted a workshop on Friday at the Palace of Nations (Palais des Nations) in Geneva under the title “Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights” on the sidelines of the ongoing 51st regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) held from September 12 until October 7.
The workshop included several international experts in artificial intelligence (AI) and human rights, along with international organizations and individuals participating in the ongoing HRC session who are concerned with AI and human rights.
The workshop coincides with the global interest in the challenges imposed by AI on the human rights arena, as well as the urgent need to interact with all the threats and challenges facing the international human rights system due to its approach to modern digital technologies and artificial intelligence, especially in terms of basic rights and freedoms that will face many challenges to ensure it was practiced by all without any discrimination, in addition to the fact that it is being held within the corridors of the United Nations during one of the most prominent international events in the world of human rights.
The workshop comes to fulfill the growing international interest of all the key players in order to discuss this dilemma to reach solutions that can enhance respect for human rights amid the dominance of artificial intelligence and modern digital technologies, especially since it is organized by a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It is considered a major event to grasp international attention and concern about this issue at the level of NGOs.
This issue represented one of the most crucial issues discussed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as the United Nations was keen to frame and organize this issue with all international parties seeking to address this phenomenon that entails serious problems and complications.
The President of Arab-European Forum for Dialogue and Human Rights, Ayman Nasri, moderated the workshop by reviewing the challenges posed by AI in our contemporary world, the services provided by modern technologies and AI to humanity, and its great contributions to the development sought by people, especially amid the current lack of interest in the issues of digital information technologies and AI, perhaps stemming from the novelty of these challenges or the lack of understanding of the true nature of the threats they represent.
Nasri asserted the importance of the efforts exerted to reach true solutions that can realize a better approach between artificial intelligence and human rights.
Dr. Akram Hazzam, Professor of Modern Digital Technologies and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Geneva, spoke at the workshop and gave a definition of what artificial intelligence represents, accompanied with an analysis of humanistic approaches to these technologies that control and dominate the world today, especially when it comes to the internet and the virtual world.
Hazzam explained the threats represented by the revolution of technical information, especially when it comes to collecting and using an individuals’ personal information, which is a serious threat to people’s security and safety and represents a violation of their rights and freedoms. Hazzam addressed the big competition going on within major countries and companies to control AI and modern information technologies in order to manage individuals and set the general trends of societies, and to simultaneously acquire the ability to harm people in a way considered to be illegal and unethical, relying on the technical progress that can widen discriminatory practices that sustain the technology gap between rich and poor societies.
Dr. Mohammed Sharif Ferjani, an international expert in political science and humanitarian studies, spoke about the aspects in which AI and information technologies intersect with human rights and freedoms, especially in light of the vast capabilities that governments and countries possess related to the collection, storage and use of information, which represents a major and serious violation that threatens human privacy and freedom and may expand to more dangerous aspects related to their security, safety and stability.
Ferjani criticized the major democratic nations’ practices related to the acquisition of AI technicalities in order to collect information that can serve goals that contradict the values and principals of humanity, relying on policies based on discrimination, in order to realize unethical and illegal goals that enable those nations to acquire international dominance, setting general trends for societies, and realizing media influence capable of leading and directing the global public opinion.
Ferjani also spoke about the capabilities provided by modern technologies to serve extremists and terrorist organizations by addressing the methods adopted by those entities to spread and promote an extremist discourse among the youth and recruiting young individuals through several media platforms, especially social media platforms. The expert also discussed the violations of major countries and companies using artificial intelligence to oppress and silence victims. He addressed a number of unethical practices that aim to control the resources of poor countries in order to make big profits or to sustain the subordination of these poor nations.
On the other hand, the President of Jusoor International for Media and Development, Mohamed Al Hammadi, reviewed the services and massive contributions provided by modern technologies to serve humanity and realize developmental goals in different societies. However, Al Hammadi was keen to address the negative practices of the very same technologies that increase the suffering of people and widen the technology gap between societies, such actions that represent a violation against people and deprive them of their basic rights and freedoms.
Al Hammadi said that his aforementioned observations require the collective efforts of all key players to protect human rights systems in light of artificial intelligence that assure a humanitarian discourse of AI researches and practices in a way that preserve and respect human rights.
Al Hammadi also stressed the importance of organizing and framing the international movement to face the challenges posed by artificial intelligence in the field of human rights. He addressed the commercial threat that major companies seek by acquiring modern technologies, driven by the investments and profits that this industry will reap during the upcoming years, which will encourage major companies and a number of developed countries to seek profits and gain economic, social and cultural benefits by enhancing technical dependency on them, which comes in many forms at the expense of human values and principles.
The head of Jusoor International Organization for Media and Development touched on the concerns raised by artificial intelligence and modern technology in terms of protecting private information and privacy, the control they impose on media and press freedoms, and how they enable some countries to strengthen their control and dominance over all media outlets in order to lead and direct public opinion to serve their directions and goals, many of which contradict human rights and freedoms protected by international legitimacy without any discrimination. Al Hammadi warned of companies and major countries’ ability to collect and store information for people and societies around the world to intervene and influence many decisions and general trends of individuals and states, which urges the international community to pay more attention and care to the human rights system in the future and to anticipate all the risks and threats against basic human rights and freedoms.
He pointed out the importance of improving the legal, legislative and judicial system in the countries in order to achieve its compatibility with the great developments in the field of digital information technologies, artificial intelligence, virtual world technologies and the fifth generation, which are major challenges that require working on legislative treatments and policies that ensure the control and framing of all interactions in a way that bridges the legal and legislative gap that most countries suffer from while dealing with the challenges posed by modern technologies and the rapid and significant changes they cause. Al Hammadi stressed upon the need to unify efforts exerted by states and organizations to enhance their protection of humanitarian values and principles, as well as to monitor major countries’ and companies’ use of AI techniques in accordance with legal and ethical policies that guarantee respect for the rights and freedoms of individuals and societies. He also noted the importance of working on a “universal charter on human digital rights” to protect and enhance the human rights system in light of the challenges posed by technology in today’s world.