Technological advancements affect the future of human rights.

The evolution of technology will have inevitably profound implications for the human rights framework.

From a practical perspective, technology can help move the human rights agenda forward. For instance, the use of satellite data can monitor the flow of displaced people; artificial intelligence can assist with image recognition to gather data on rights abuses; and the use of forensic technology can reconstruct crime scenes and hold perpetrators accountable.

Yet, for the multitude of areas in which emerging technologies advance the human rights agenda, technological developments have equal capacity to undermine efforts. From authoritarian states monitoring political dissidents by way of surveillance technologies, to the phenomenon of “deepfakes” destabilizing the democratic public sphere, ethical and policy-oriented implications must be taken into consideration with the development of technological innovations.  

Technological advancements also introduce new actors to the human rights framework. The movement has historically focused on the role of the state in ensuring rights and justice. Today, technological advancements and the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, in particular, necessitate interaction, collaboration, and coordination with leaders from business and technology in addition to government.

The Carr Center's Technology and Human Rights Program brings together the Technology and Human Rights Fellowship, with a new cohort selected each academic year to perform research on the challenges of technology to the human rights framework. Additionally, the program hosts the Towards Life 3.0: Ethics and Technology in the 21st Century webinar series, which draws upon a range of scholars, tech leaders, and public interest technologists to address the ethical aspects of the long-term impact of AI on society and human life.

A new theme within the Technology and Human Rights Fellowship gives special focus to research on the theme of “Surveillance Capitalism or Democracy: Who Knows, Who Decides?” This cohort connects fellows' projects to the research in Shoshana Zuboff's 2019 book, The Age Surveillance Capitalism, and Mathias Risse’s 2023 book, Political Theory of the Digital Age. This portion of the Technology and Human Rights Fellowship is co-directed by Mathias Risse and Shoshana Zuboff. 

 

Our Technology and Human Rights Fellows

Alexandra Belias

Alexandra Belias

Head of Product Policy & Partnerships
DeepMind

Isabel Ebert

Isabel Ebert

Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Business Ethics
University of St. Gallen

Mona Elswah

Mona Elswah

DPhil Candidate
Oxford Internet Institute

Albert Fox Cahn

Albert Fox Cahn

Founder and Executive Director
Surveillance Technology Oversight Project

Nnenna Ifeanyi-Ajufo

Nnenna Ifeanyi-Ajufo

Associate Professor of Law
Buckinghamshire New University

Dragana Kaurin

Dragana Kaurin

Founder and Executive Director
Localization Lab

 

Nitika Khaitan

Nitika Khaitan

Criminal Defense Lawyer
LL.M. Candidate, Harvard Law School

 

Sebastian Lehuede

Sebastian Lehuede

Postdoctoral Scholar
University of Cambridge

 

Matthew MacDonald

Matthew MacDonald

Doctoral Candidate in Philosophy
Harvard University

 

Ella McPherson

Ella McPherson

Associate Professor
University of Cambridge

 

Lucas Meier

Lucas Meier

Junior Research Fellow
University of Cambridge

 

Sebastian Smart

Sebastian Smart

Regional Director
Chilean National Human Rights Institution

 

Sharath Srinivasan

Sharath Srinivasan

David and Elaine Potter Associate Professor
University of Cambridge

 

Phumzile Van Damme

Phumzile Van Damme

Former Member of Parliament
South Africa

 

From Our Tech & Human Rights Fellows

 

Online video games are social networks, afflicted with the same speech moderation questions as other social media platforms. 

 

The dangers of new technology, misinformation, and how they intersect with human rights.

 

Mona Elswah zooms in on the AI-powered content moderation by Meta’s Facebook in relation to managing Arabic content. 

 

Breaking from big tech, human rights advocates working with technology envision data, platforms and systems aligned with pluralism and solidarity.

 

The exacerbation of racial inequality through the design of technologies shows how the evolution of digital technologies impacts our human rights.

 

Rapid advances in AI have created a global sense of urgency around the ways that automated systems are changing human lives, but not all of these changes are necessarily for the better. 

 

As technology becomes ever more prevalent, evidence of the undesirable consequences has become too difficult to ignore.

 

Feminist theories and practices are important tools to acknowledge the existence of the political structures behind the deployment of technologies.

 

In recent years, there has been growing concern regarding the unintended mental health impact of online platforms and whether they might be driving a public health crisis.

The Technology and Human Rights Fellowship
Technology and Human Rights Fellows explore how technological progress will shape the future of human life and impact human rights protections.

 

Towards Life 3.0 Webinars

 

Beth Noveck discusses the transformative potential of AI in reshaping governance and strengthening democratic processes. 

 

Award-winning science fiction author Jo Walton discusses artificial intelligence in science fiction. 

 

Steve Feldstein of the Carnegie Endowment discusses the role of artificial intelligence is reshaping repression.

 

Samuel Gregory of WITNESS discusses the dangers of generative AI and deepfakes for our human rights.

 

Aric Toler of Bellingcat discusses the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

 

Mathias Risse discusses the potential impacts of artificial intelligence on the future of our democracy.

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