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.

 

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Latest Publications

Populism, Authoritarianism, and Institutional Resistance: Constitutional Courts in the Game of Power

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Populism, Authoritarianism, and Institutional Resistance: Constitutional Courts in the Game of Power

Abstract:

Democratic constitutionalism was the victorious ideology of the 20th century, having defeated the alternatives that appeared over the decades: communism, fascism, Nazism, military regimes, and religious fundamentalism. However, in these first decades of the 21st century, something seems to not be going very well. Some describe it as a democratic recession. This paper identifies three phenomena that underlie this historical process: populism, extremism, and authoritarianism, as well as their political, economic-social, and cultural-identity causes. Then, after an analysis of the world context, this article focuses on the Brazilian experience in recent years, narrating the threats to constitutional legality and the institutional reaction. The final part discusses the limits and possibilities of constitutional courts in the exercise of their role of defending constitutionalism and democracy.

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author/date: Justice Luís Roberto Barroso | Jul 14, 2022
teaser text: An examination of populism, extremism, and authoritarianism, and the role constitutional courts can play in defending democracy.
Last updated on 08/02/2022

A More Equal Future? Political Equality, Discrimination, and Machine Learning

Citation:

Joshua Simons and Eli Frankel. 5/3/2022. “A More Equal Future? Political Equality, Discrimination, and Machine Learning.” Technology and Democracy Discussion Paper Series. Publisher's Version
A More Equal Future? Political Equality, Discrimination, and Machine Learning

Abstract:

Machine learning is everywhere. AI-evangelists promise that data-driven decision-making will not only boost organizational efficiency, it will also help make organizations fairer and advance social justice. Yet the effects of machine learning on social justice, human rights, and democracy will depend not on the technology itself, but on human choices about how to design and deploy it. Among the most important is whether and how to ensure systems do not reproduce and entrench pervasive patterns of inequality.

The authors argue that we need radical civil rights reforms to regulate AI in the digital age, and must return to the roots of civil rights. This paper is adapted from Josh Simons's forthcoming book, Algorithms for the People: Democracy in the Age of AI, published by Princeton University Press this Fall.

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author/date: Joshua Simons et al. | May 3 2022
teaser text: Machine learning is everywhere. Yet the effects of machine learning on social justice, human rights, and democracy will depend not on the technology itself, but on human choices about how to design and deploy it.
Last updated on 05/03/2022

How AI Fails Us

Citation:

Divya Siddarth, Daron Acemoglu, Danielle Allen, Kate Crawford, James Evans, Michael Jordan, and E. Glen Weyl. 4/14/2022. “How AI Fails Us.” Technology and Democracy Discussion Paper Series. Publisher's Version
How AI Fails Us

Abstract:

The dominant vision of artificial intelligence imagines a future of large-scale autonomous systems outperforming humans in an increasing range of felds. This “actually existing AI” vision misconstrues intelligence as autonomous rather than social and relational. It is both unproductive and dangerous, optimizing for artificial metrics of human replication rather than for systemic augmentation, and tending to concentrate power, resources, and decision-making in an engineering elite. Alternative visions based on participating in and augmenting human creativity and cooperation have a long history and underlie many celebrated digital technologies such as personal computers and the internet. Researchers and funders should redirect focus from centralized autonomous general intelligence to a plurality of established and emerging approaches that extend cooperative and augmentative traditions as seen in successes such as Taiwan’s digital democracy project and collective intelligence platforms like Wikipedia.

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author/date: Divya Siddarth et al. | Apr 14 2022
teaser text: The dominant vision of artificial intelligence imagines a future of large-scale autonomous systems outperforming humans in an increasing range of fields — but this view is both unproductive and dangerous.
Last updated on 04/14/2022
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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