The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy serves as the hub of the Harvard Kennedy School’s research, teaching, and training in the human rights domain. The center embraces a dual mission: to educate students and the next generation of leaders from around the world in human rights policy and practice; and to convene and provide policy-relevant knowledge to international organizations, governments, policymakers, and businesses.
Abstract: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, especially among children and teens. There is emerging evidence that spending too much time on digital platforms—like gaming sites, online pornography sites, and social media—can be associated with negative mental health effects such as depression and social anxiety, at least in some users. Yet most policy action and advocacy in this industry have focused on the issues of privacy and misinformation, relegating the mental health impact of digital technology as a secondary byproduct of the industry. In this paper, we provide an overview of the documented negative mental health effects associated with prolonged use of video games, online pornography, and social media. We outline the measures that have been taken to address the mental health impact of these technologies. Finally, we suggest that induced overuse is at the heart of the problem and we propose an incentive-based policy mechanism to address it.
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Human rights are dynamic, rather than static. The contemporary status quo emerged via a three-phase process, from conceptualization, to clarification, and to consolidation. The present is an interregnum between two significant eras, a fact which the generations metaphor does not adequately capture. The future of human rights will be shaped by how individuals and institutions engage with advances in technologies that transform and extend the mind and body. Particular attention is paid to innovation in superintelligence, social robots, and augmented humans. One implication of this analysis is that changes to the mind and body are likely to transform the subject of rights and to require the development of more a sophisticated rights ecology. Human rights scholars and advocates should engage in a proactive and ambitious program to prepare for such developments. Such efforts will ensure there are rights to clarify and consolidate in the era to come.
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In spring 2013, a global coalition, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, launched with a mission to advocate for a ban on “machines that determine whom to kill.” Nine years later, almost to the day at the time of writing, no such ban exists. Autonomous weapons research is alive and well, and artificial intelligence has made it to the fore of the Pentagon’s future weapons development strategy. The latest Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), a primary forum for international talks on lethal autonomous weapon systems, failed to achieve consensus on whether new international laws are needed to address threats posed by autonomous weapons technology. Meanwhile, high-tech military powers, including China, Russia, Israel, South Korea, the US, and the UK, continue to invest heavily in the development of autonomous weapon systems.
One especially widely shared worry is that AWS may not be able to comply with the laws of armed conflict. This paper warns that, though seemingly natural and ubiquitous, appeals to international humanitarian law (IHL) should be handled with care. By interrogating compliance with IHL as a criterion for assessing the moral permissibility of deployment, this paper illuminates an altogether different dimension of the debate: what criteria we should apply to begin with, as we confront the moral and legal conundrums of the increasing autonomization of warfare.
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“The Carr Center is building a bridge between ideas on human rights and the practice on the ground. Right now we are at a critical juncture. The pace of technological change and the rise of authoritarian governments are both examples of serious challenges to the flourishing of individual rights. It’s crucial that Harvard and the Kennedy School continue to be a major influence in keeping human rights ideals alive. The Carr Center is a focal point for this important task.”
- Mathias Risse