HKS Affiliated Authors

Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs and Philosophy


Forest sceneThe exacerbation of racial inequality through the design of technologies remains an understated way in which the evolution of digital technologies impacts our human rights. As we continue to consider the impacts of modern technology on our human rights in areas such as privacy, freedom of expression, etc., we must also increasingly consider the interaction between digital technologies and forms of racial inequality. We continue to see how people of certain races are subjected to prejudicial consequences and outcomes of the design and deployment of digital technologies. This makes it relevant to examine a racial (in)equality perspective of advancing a “human rights by design” agenda for digital technologies. The conversations about racial inequality and digital technologies have also not specifically centered the discourse from a dependence perspective. This gave cause for the paper which links the development of digital technologies to thoughts about dependence through examining the racial inequality and discrimination discourse that has emerged because of the development and deployment of digital technologies. Perhaps racial inequality is also exacerbated by dependence on digital technologies developed in settings and cultures that give little recognition to the need to include all races in the design and deployment of digital technologies. Thoughts about the obligation of tech companies to imply key human rights standards such as non-discrimination and equality in the design stages of digital technologies further provides a background for the elaboration of the idea that “design thinking” can promote tech designing in a manner that incorporates safeguards against racial discrimination based on human rights standards.


Mathias Risse. 8/18/2023. A Radical Reckoning with Cultural Devastation and Its Aftermath: Reflections on Wub-e-ke-niew’s We Have the Right to Exist”.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard Kennedy School.