Ground breaking report puts rights of persons with disabilities at the centre of ethical AI debate

Woman with Down's Syndrome looks directly at camera

On 15th March 2022, The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities launched his latest report ‘Artificial Intelligence and disability: Balance of risks and opportunities’.

The report addresses the rapid growth in the use of artificial intelligence, automated decision-making and machine-learning technologies from a disability rights perspective. While these new technologies can be of enormous benefit to persons with disabilities and drive the search for inclusive equality across a broad range of fields such as employment, education and independent living, there are many well-known discriminatory impacts.

The report is particularly significant coming at a time when the debate on race and gender bias in AI-powered recruitment is building, yet disability is so missing no one has even noticed it isn’t there.

In this thematic study, the Special Rapporteur describes the risks that this technology constitutes to the enjoyment of the human rights of persons with disabilities, as provided by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He maintains that the human rights of persons with disabilities should be placed at the centre of the debate about these technologies. Once these risks are addressed, then the practical benefits of artificial intelligence might be realized. To that end, he also proposes some practical recommendations as to how this could be achieved in the final section of the report. Download the report including an ‘ Easy read’ version from the UN Human Rights website.

Download the report including an ‘ Easy read’ version from the UN Human Rights website.