Protecting human rights in the era of artificial intelligence

The Australian Human Rights Commission has officially launched a major three-year project examining technology and human rights.

The project was launched at the Human Rights and Technology conference in Sydney, attended by more than 400 people from industry, government and the community.

Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow said artificial intelligence, facial recognition, global data markets and other technological developments pose unprecedented challenges to privacy, freedom of expression and equality.

“Human rights must shape the future these incredible innovations have made possible,” Commissioner Santow said.

“We must seize the opportunities technology presents but also guard against threats to our rights and the potential for entrenched inequality and disadvantage.”

Commissioner Santow launched an Issues Paper which asks how Australian law should protect human rights in the development and use of new technologies. It asks what protections are needed when artificial intelligence is used in decisions that affect our basic rights – in areas as diverse as insurance, social media and the criminal justice system. It also invites ideas on how we can make technology more inclusive of our diverse community.

“This starts the conversation the Commission will have with industry, government, academia and civil society over the coming months,” Commissioner Santow said. 

“Working collaboratively, we will develop a practical roadmap for reform in Australia.”

A discussion paper will be published in early 2019 and a final report and recommendations will be delivered in late 2019.

More information about the Project and the Issues Paper is available from