UN calls for facial recognition and artificial intelligence moratorium

Following an artificial intelligence (AI) report published by the United Nations (UN), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for a moratorium on the sale and use of AI systems that pose a serious risk to human rights until safeguards are put in place. AI applications that cannot be used in compliance with international human rights law should be banned, Bachelet said.

The UN Human Rights Office report analyses how AI, including profiling, automated decision-making and other machine-learning technologies, affects people’s privacy rights. The report details how AI systems rely on large data sets, with information about individuals collected, shared, merged and analyzed in multiple ways. It also cites the risk posed by data breaches as a serious privacy issue.

“Artificial intelligence can be a force for good, helping societies overcome some of the great challenges of our times. But AI technologies can have negative, even catastrophic, effects if they are used without sufficient regard to how they affect people’s human rights,” Bachelet said. The report calls for increased transparency from developers, marketers, operators and users of AI systems.