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APC; Article 19


Sixty years after machines started beating humans at strategy board games, this edition of Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) focuses on the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) systems on human rights, social justice and sustainable development.

The AI future is here. AI is now finding widespread practical application: from transport to health, agriculture to waste removal; from policing to welfare, and from smart technology in the home to space exploration. Automated decision making is increasingly being used in critical service and infrastructure provision in areas such as employment, housing, access to education, commerce and access to credit, impacting people's lives in profound ways. In this sense, context matters.

Despite the application of AI in geographically diverse contexts, conversations on AI have been driven largely by Western and global North predictions and perspectives. Yet the assumptions, values, incentives and socioeconomic environments within which AI technologies function vary greatly across jurisdictions and, as a consequence, the very real effects of AI are also more diverse.

GISWatch fills this gap between perspective and impact by exploring AI in the local context, with a specific focus on countries in the global South. We have asked: What impact do AI systems have on vulnerable and marginalised populations around the world? How do they impact, positively or negatively, on human rights concerns such as privacy, security, freedom of expression and association, access to information, access to work, to organise and join trade unions? What are the political implications of the widespread use of data in building AI systems? And what are the positive benefits of AI for enabling rights, such as the right to health or education, in making government more accessible to people, or in addressing key social challenges such as forced labour and human trafficking? How is power asymmetry embedded in the ways that AI systems are designed and deployed, and what potential threats or benefits does this have for people in the face of automated decision making? What social values are being transformed by the application of artificial intelligence?

The answers given are contained in the following eight thematic reports, 40 country reports and three regional reports.

This year’s GISWatch report has been a fortunate opportunity for collaboration between ARTICLE 19 and APC around an issue of common concern. We believe the joint effort has resulted in valuable knowledge building and context-specific analysis of the impacts of AI. GISWatch is also a network collaboration among all of its contributors and this edition will undoubtedly result in research-based advocacy, influence and shaping of alternative regulatory, technical and policy responses.

AI is ultimately a social phenomenon, and, as such, it is our collective hope that this edition of GISWatch contributes to ensuring that human rights, human dignity, collective and individual agency, social justice and development are not undermined, but rather strengthened by it.

This report was originally published as part of a larger compilation: “Global Information Society Watch 2019: Artificial intelligence: Human rights, social justice and development"
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) - Some rights reserved.
ISBN 978-92-95113-12-1
APC Serial: APC-201910-CIPP-R-EN-P-301