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.
We interviewed Bruce Schneier, Security Technologist and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Carr Center Fellow Vivek Krishnamurthy, and Carr Center Faculty Director Mathias Risse on the ethics and responsibilities of using AI and surveillance technology amidst a global pandemic.
Read their full discussion, here.
My dear students,
Let me say this first: I love you — and I hope all of you are somewhere safe right now.
I know this doesn’t find any of us well. This global pandemic has profoundly upended our lives and livelihoods and routines and responsibilities, to say nothing of our capacity to work and dream together to build a better world. The corona crisis has catapulted us into complete chaos, accompanied by a disorienting mix of emotions: fear and despair, anxiety and anger, uncertainty and longing, concern and compassion. If you are like me, you’re experiencing all these things at once on any given day. As one friend put it: “I didn’t realize I could have so many mood swings before my first cup of coffee.” As a historian, I rarely use the word unprecedented — after all, almost everything has some kind of precedent — but I dusted it off last week and have been using it more and more with each passing day. History will have time to take full account of this moment, but first we must survive it.
The Carr Center will begin a regular discussion series outlining how the pandemic intersects with specific human rights domains. In our introductory paper, Mathias Risse, Kathryn Sikkink, and Timothy Patrick McCarthy discuss the importance of human rights in a pandemic situation. In addition to describing how we can balance individual rights with those of the larger community, they also situate the current pandemic within historical contexts, and within a larger backdrop of our current digital age.
“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