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.
The public and private sectors are increasingly turning to the use of algorithmic or artificial intelligence impact assessments (AIAs) as a means to identify and mitigate harms from AI. While promising, lack of clarity on the proper scope, methodology, and best practices for AIAs could inadvertently perpetuate the harms they seek to mitigate, especially to human rights. We explore the emerging integration of the human rights legal framework into AI governance strategies, including the implementation of human rights impacts assessments (HRIAs) to assess AI. The benefits and drawbacks from recent implementations of AIAs and HRIAs to assess AI adopted by the public and private sectors are explored and considered in the context of an emerging trend toward the development of standards, certifications, and regulatory technologies for responsible AI governance practices. We conclude with priority considerations to better ensure that AIAs and their corresponding responsible AI governance strategies live up to their promise.
Are there any types of AI that should never be built in the first place? The “Non-Deployment Argument”—the claim that some forms of AI should never be deployed, or even built—has been subject to significant controversy recently: non-deployment skeptics fear that it will stifle innovation, and argue that the continued deployment and incremental optimization of AI tools will ultimately benefit everyone in society. However, there are good reasons to subject the view that we should always try to build, deploy, and gradually optimize new AI tools to critical scrutiny: in the context of AI, making things better is not always good enough. In specific cases, there are overriding ethical and political reasons—such as the ongoing presence of entrenched structures of social injustice—why we ought not to continue to build, deploy, and optimize particular AI tools for particular tasks. Instead of defaulting to optimization, we have a moral and political duty to critically interrogate and contest the value and purpose of using AI in a given domain in the first place.
The 2021 Indigenous Women Convening for Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation Conference brought together Indigenous scholars and female leaders from seven Indigenous socio-cultural zones around the world. Together, they shared stories of war and conflict in their territories and discussed collective ways of ideating Indigenous conflict resolution and peacemaking processes.
The event was organized by the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy; the Committee on Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights; the Scholars at Risk Program; and the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, Gender, Justice, and Peace. Co-sponsors included the Center for the Study of World Religions; the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; the Harvard College Writing Program; HUNAP; Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative; and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. The event was moderated by Jacqueline Bhabha, FXB Director of Research and Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Shelly Lowe, Executive Director of the Harvard University Native American Program. Opening remarks were provided by Raquel Vega-Duran, Chair of the Committee on Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights, and Sushma Raman, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.
This publication features the 10 speakers of the conference and their profound statements on the state of human rights and peacemaking in their respective Indigenous zones.
“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