Jeff Bleich and Dr. Bradley J. Strawser at the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the next technological revolution, a breakthrough that poses both great risks and great rewards for human rights. Our ability to mitigate AI’s risks will depend not on its technical features, but on how and why those features are used. A hammer can build a house or break a skull — the impact of any tool depends on who wields it, their intentions behind its use, and what constraints, if any, have been built around the tool’s use.
Having studied leading AI technologies, we are optimistic about their capacity to enhance the core values of human rights — including the right to life, equality, freedom of movement, and a sustainable environment. But realizing that potential requires being clear-eyed about the threat AI technologies pose, then addressing those threats.
AI is already embedded in many aspects of our lives, from mail systems that anticipate our words to Alexa/Siri assistants learning our needs to bank systems recognizing out-of-pattern purchases to playlists shuffling to match our personal tastes. Some find these things convenient; some find them annoying. Few consider them an immediate threat to our lives and freedoms.
Yet, as AI advances, its presence in the world will come into sharper relief.