Editor's note: Samuel
Brobby graduated from Maastricht University's Globalisation and Law LLM
specialising in Human Rights in September 2020. A special interest in
HRDD carries his research through various topics such
as: the intersection between AI and HRDD, the French Devoir de Vigilance
or mHRDD at the EU level. Since April 2021 he has joined the Asser
Institute as a research intern for the Doing Business Right project.
The recent surge in developments and debate surrounding Artificial
Intelligence (AI) have been business centric, naturally so. The conversation
has long been centred on the possible gains “digitally conscious” companies can
recoup from their sizeable investments in the various forms this technology can
take. The ink continues to flow as numerous articles are released daily;
debating between the ultimate power of artificial intelligence (and topical
subsets like machine learning) on the one hand, versus the comparatively more
philistinish views regarding what these technologies can offer on the other.
Our objective here is not to pick a side on the AI debate. Rather, we would
like to explore the Business & Human Rights implications of the development
of AI and, in particular its intersection with the human rights due diligence
(HRDD) processes enshrined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and subsequent declinations. How compatible is AI with HRDD obligations? Where does AI fit into the
HRDD process? Can AI be used as a tool to further HRDD obligations? Can the
HRDD process, in return, have an effect on the elaboration and progress of AI
and its use in transnational business? And, to which extent will the roll out
of AI be affected by HRDD obligations? These are all questions we hope to tackle
in this blog.
In short, it seems two distinct shifts are occurring,
rather opportunely, in close time frames. The impending mass adoption of AI in
transnational business will have strong consequences for the state of Human
Rights. This adoption is not only substantiated by an uptick of AI in business,
but also in policy documents produced or endorsed by leading institutions such
as the ILO or the
OECD for instance. Inversely,
we must consider that HRDD obligations elaborated by the BHR community will
also have strong implications for the development and roll out of AI. These two
transformations will interact increasingly as their positions are consolidated.
It is these interactions that we wish to analyse in the two parts of this
article. Namely, the emergence of Artificial intelligence as a tool to shape
and further HRDD obligations (1) and the emergence of HRDD as a process to shape
the development of AI (2). More...