IGF 2021 Launch / Award Event #55 “Human Rights-Based Data-Based Systems”

Time
Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (11:00 UTC) - Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (12:00 UTC)
Room
Ballroom B

Institute of Social Ethics, University of Lucerne

Speakers

Professor Dr Peter G Kirchschlaeger, Full Professor of Theological Ethics and Director of the Institute of Social Ethics ISE, University of Lucerne (Switzerland)

Dr. Evelyne Tauchnitz, Senior Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher (Lucerne Graduate School in Ethics) at the Institute of Social Ethics ISE, University of Lucerne (Switzerland)

Aaron Butler, MAR, Research Fellow and PhD Student (Lucerne Graduate School in Ethics) at the Institute of Social Ethics ISE, University of Lucerne (Switzerland)

Format

Presentation with panel discussion and Q&A; hybrid format.

Duration (minutes)
60
Language

English

Description

Economic and social inclusion and human rights

“Human Rights-Based Data-Based Systems” In order to take the current situation of humanity more seriously and to address the ethical chances and risks more fervently, the session will discuss the need and the possibility of human rights-based design, development, production, and use of data-based systems – the necessity and potential of human rights-based “artificial intelligence” HRBAI and of human rights-based data-based systems HRBDS, respectively.

HRBDS would embrace a precautionary approach, the reinforcement of existing human rights instruments specifically for data-based systems, and the promotion of algorithms supporting and furthering the realization of human rights. “Human rights-based data-based systems HRBDS means – in order to illustrate it with a concrete example – that, e.g., the human rights to privacy and data-protection in its relevance for human dignity and freedom of humans must be defended – so as also to exclude the possibility that humans should be able to sell themselves and their data as well as their privacy as products. This is a substantial argument against data ownership as well. Alternatively, would or should one come up with the idea to sell her or his love letter to her or his beloved to the state and to corporations as data? Or would or should one sell the dinner-table-conversation of her or his family to the state or the private sector? Or would or should one sell the behavioral habits of her or his children to the state or a company?”1 HRBDS can as well be illustrated by the call for an economically successful, legal, and legitimate business model, e.g., for video-conference-software that does not – like present ones do (e.g. ZOOM)2 – possess critical vulnerabilities that allow one to surveil and violate the human right to privacy and data-protection of humans. In other words, it must be possible to create a profitable business model with the provision and promotion of a video-conference-software that does not imply human rights violations.

The concept of HRBDS results in the call for an “International Data-Based Systems Agency DSA”.3 Humanity and planet Earth need, from an ethical perspective a global supervisory and monitoring institution in the area of data-based systems – analogous to the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA4 – in order to ensure the implementation of the principles that were just mentioned, to guarantee the realization of human rights and to further effective governance going beyond regulation. The International Data-Based Systems Agency DSA should be the world’s central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the field of digital transformation and data-based systems. Integrated in or associated with the UN, it should work for the safe, secure, and peaceful uses of data-based systems, contributing to international peace and security, to the respect and realization of human rights, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

More and stricter commitment to the legal framework is necessary and regulation that is precise, goal-oriented, and strictly enforced. The DSA would serve this necessity. In this way, regulation may also be advantageous economically. For example, the American regulation of air traffic and the aviation industry allowed an entire industry to flourish economically thanks to its high degree of precision, its clear orientation, and its uncompromising enforcement.5 There is reason for hope and faith, because humanity has already shown in its past that we are able to not always “blindly” pursue and implement the technically possible, but also to renounce, restrain, or limit ourselves to what is technically feasible when the welfare of humanity and planet Earth are at stake. For example, humans researched the field of nuclear technology, developed the atomic bomb, it was dropped several times, but then humans substantially and massively limited research and development in the field of nuclear technology, in order to prevent even worse, despite massive resistance. This suppression was successful to the greatest possible extent, thanks to an international regime, concrete enforcement mechanisms, and thanks to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the UN.

In the case of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), humanity also decided under the Montreal Protocol of 1987 6 to ban substances that damage the ozone layer and to enforce the ban consistently. Here, the resistance was also huge, inter alia, due to particular interests from the private sector. This regulation and its uncompromising enforcement led to the fact that the hole in the ozone layer is now slowly closing.

1. Kirchschlaeger, Peter G (2021): Digital Transformation and Ethics. Ethical Considerations on the Robotization and Automation of Society and the Economy and the Use of Artificial Intelligence. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 351.

2.See Laaff, Meike (2020): “Ok, Zoomer”. In: Die Zeit, March 31. Online: https://www.ze it.de/digital/2020-03/videokonferenzen-zoom-app-homeoffice-quarantaene-coro navirus/komplettansicht [26.05.2021].

3.See Kirchschlaeger, Peter G (2021): Digital Transformation and Ethics. Ethical Considerations on the Robotization and Automation of Society and the Economy and the Use of Artificial Intelligence. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 352-355.

4. See International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) https://www.iaea.org./.

5. Dorian Selz, CEO and Founder of Squirro, made this observation at a workshop at the ETH Zurich on April 10, 2019.

6. See Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987): About Montreal Protocol. UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Online: https://www..unep.org/ozonaction/who-we-are/about-montreal-protocol [26.05.2021].

The plan is to hold, in hybrid format, three short online presentations, each of 10 minutes, followed by a Q&A-lead panel discussion wherein participants can pose their respective questions to the speakers. The latter will be a question-for-question attempt to provide answers.

In an attempt to address the potential questions posed and facilitate discussion: (1) for the on-site participants: there will be a set of presentations given (speakers being arranged as panel-presenters appropriately positioned so as to respect COVID-19 restrictions), each of 10 minutes, followed by a Q&A-lead discussion (2)for the online participants: the IGF Official Online Participation Platform will be used, which is facilitated by Zoom. As such the presentations needing-to-be-given (again: each of 10 minutes in length) are planned to be broadcast online and there are also planned breakout rooms that will be available in order to facilitate discussion and one-on-one time with each speaker.

Furthermore, the design for the Q&A-lead discussion will be accordingly: the breakout rooms will be paired with on-site participants such that the set of questions asked of each speaker will be as follows: (Breakout Room 1, On-site Participants, Questions for Prof. Dr. Kirchschlaeger);(Breakout Room 2, On-site Participants, Questions for Dr. Tauchnitz); (Breakout Room 3, On-site Participants, Questions for Mr. Butler)

Lastly, it is hoped that such a design will facilitate a lively discussion redounding to the benefit of all relevant parties.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

The same human rights that people have offline must also be protected online. Human rights-based data-based systems reinforce existing human rights instruments specifically for data-based systems and promote algorithms supporting and furthering the realization of human rights.

Having human rights as a minimum standard for digital transformation has the advantage of being universally applicable under all circumstances, being recognized on a global level as well as being a robust, rationally well-grounded, and concrete basis for the content of legal norms.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

We propose greater embedding of human rights as a minimum standard as a design model guiding “ethically-aligned design” covering the full life-cycle of the design, development, and deployment of data-based systems (including artificial intelligence) and that enforcement of having such a standard be made an integral part of a multi-level governance enforcement mechanism strategy working in dialogue with private companies.

A global supervisory and monitoring institution, the International Data-based Systems Agency DSA, in the area of data-based systems be established for the purpose of aiding in the development, commitment, and enforcement of increased and stricter legal frameworks such that acceptance of human rights as a minimum standard is truly legally binding, along with coordinating and supporting existing regional concrete enforcement mechanisms.

Session Report (* deadline 16 December) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

 

 

Session Report

 

Given the intertwinement of data-based systems and artificial intelligence with human affairs and endeavors, we are at a critical phase in digital transformation wherein we can more seriously and fervently address the ethical chances and risks thereof. Accordingly, the aim of our session, entitled “Human Rights-Based Data-Based Systems”, which itself is based on the book by professor Dr. Kirchschlaeger entitled Digital Transformation and Ethics: Ethical Considerations on the Robotization and Automation of Society and the Economy and the Use of Artificial Intelligence, is to consider, from an ethical perspective, the need and possibility of human rights as an integral feature of the intertwinement of digital transformation and human affairs and endeavors. How, then, can we best navigate the intertwinement of digital transformation and human affairs and endeavors so as to better protect and promote human dignity, freedom, and well-being in the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution? 

 

Humans must be empowered to reflect critically on the processing of data and the data-based results, to use data with critical thinking, and to go against data-based systems or data if necessary. As such, we discuss the embedding of human rights into digital transformation as a minimum standard precipitating a fundamental shift in perspective making the ethical perspective the lodestar of digital transformation. This embedding would result in two concrete outcomes: (1) having human rights-based data-based systems (Kirchschlaeger, 2021, pp. 350–352) (2) having an International Data-Based Systems Agency (DSA) (Kirchschlaeger, 2021, pp. 352–355). Both of these outcomes would champion promotion and protection online of the same human rights that people have offline.

 

In the first, namely: human rights-based data-based systems, such systems would reinforce existing human rights instruments specifically for data-based systems and promote algorithms supporting and furthering the realization of human rights. To achieve this end, we propose greater embedding of human rights as a minimum standard as a design model guiding “ethically aligned design” (IEEE 2019) covering the full life-cycle of the design, development, and deployment of data-based systems (including artificial intelligence). In fact, having human rights as a minimum standard for digital transformation has the advantage of being universally applicable under all circumstances, being recognized on a global level as well as being a robust, rationally well-grounded, and concrete basis for the content of legal norms.

 

‘But how would the embedding of human rights as the relevant standard be secured?’ This trenchant question was expressed by a stakeholder present online at our session. Through the discussion that ensued, we proposed that enforcement of such a standard should not solely be in the hands of private companies, but rather made an integral part of a multi-level governance enforcement mechanism strategy working in dialogue with private companies. 

 

In the second, namely: the International Data-Based Systems Agency (DSA), we proposed that a global supervisory and monitoring institution, the International Data-based Systems Agency DSA, analogous to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Montreal Protocol of 1987, in the area of data-based systems be established for the purpose of: 

  • Ensuring safe, secure and peaceful uses of data-based systems
  • Contributing to international peace and security
  • Ensuring respect and promotion of human rights
  • Promoting of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

 

‘But how would such an agency relate to existing agencies such as the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)?’ This pertinent question was posed by another stakeholder participating online in our session. In response, we noted that such an agency would possess principles of application serving the necessary function of:

  • Providing an umbrella organization for international cooperation and spearheading international collective action of human rights-based digital transformation and strengthening regulation that is precise, goal-oriented and from an ethical perspective grounded in human rights as a minimum standard

 

  • Aiding in the development, commitment, and enforcement of increased and stricter legal frameworks such that acceptance of human rights as a minimum standard is truly legally binding (and not merely recommended), along with coordinating and supporting existing relevant regional concrete enforcement mechanisms. (DSA)

 

In conclusion, we are grateful to have had the opportunity to present our message and proposals at the Internet Governance Forum 2021. Moreover, we benefited greatly from the critical and illuminating discussion and audience participation of our session.


Reference

 

Kirchschlaeger, P.(2021). Digital Transformation and Ethics: Ethical Considerations on the Robotization and Automation of Society and the Economy and the Use of Artificial Intelligence, pp. 350–355. Baden-Baden: Nomos.

 

The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (2019)“Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems.” IEEE Advancing Technology for Humanity, available online: https://standards.ieee.org/content/dam/ieee-standards/standards/web/documents/other/ead_v2.pdf (accessed 19.12.2021).