UN Rapporteur on poverty and human rights calls for more transparency around AI

In a statement on his visit to the UK, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Prof. Philip Alston, spoke, among others, about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) by and within public administration. Alston noted that, according to evidence, ‘the human rights of the poorest and most vulnerable are especially at risk’ in the context of automated governmental services. He also cautioned that ‘a major issue with the development of new technologies by the UK government is a lack of transparency’, and called for ‘more public knowledge about the development and operation of automated systems’. While acknowledging the potential for good of AI technologies, the rapporteur pointed out that transparency and public debates about the use of AI in government will help ‘demystifying technology and clarifying distributive impacts’. Finally, he mentioned that ethical frameworks are not enough, and that the use of AI by the government should be done in line with the rule of law.