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Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen: Human rights must be secured also in the era of artificial intelligence and digitalisation

Ministry of Justice
Publication date 13.4.2018 11.13 | Published in English on 16.4.2018 at 8.57
Press release

"To be able to secure human rights also in the future, it is of utmost importance to be aware of the challenges brought along by digitalisation and new technologies," Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen said when speaking at an event organised in honour of the visit of Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, to Finland in Helsinki today.

"New technologies provide new opportunities for citizen engagement. Based on Finland's experiences – for example the huge success of the service enabling online launch of citizens' initiatives – we can say that there is a lot of potential in new technologies especially when combined with policies aiming to promote the rights of citizens and the transparency of government."

According to Häkkänen, risks and benefits related to new technologies must be assessed from the perspective of the different actors and sectors of society. Technology is not used in a social vacuum.

"When considered from the perspective of citizen engagement, artificial intelligence may promote transparency and the right to information. On the other hand, differences between the various groups of citizens may grow, as people have different capabilities in terms of utilising the new opportunities. The requirements on the job market may change rapidly, which opens up new opportunities for some but contains a risk of exclusion for others," Häkkänen said.

"The breakthrough of digitalisation and artificial intelligence will change a lot in the world as we know it. This is also true with regard to legal aspects and questions related to human rights. To guarantee the protection of privacy and personal data, we must maintain high standards. They will also contribute to trust in the digital economy."

"Artificial intelligence contains potential for inclusive and transparent governance, better public services and enhancing the realisation of human rights. 'Big data' required in the use of artificial intelligence also makes it possible to gain detailed information of individual citizens and can threaten the right to privacy. Various algorithms may contain elements of bias, which can challenge the right to equal treatment. Questions related to monitoring the fairness of algorithms as well as aspects related to liability need to be raised."

According to Häkkänen, international cooperation in this field must be intensified in order to collect information on the relationship of digitalisation and artificial intelligence to human rights. 

"In the face of new realities, we must collect information on the best practices and codes of conduct and urgently develop ethical practices and safeguard compliance with human rights standards."

Inquiries: Lauri Koskentausta, Special Adviser, tel. +358 2951 50131

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