Articles  |  ,   |  August 18, 2020

Designing for human rights in AI

Peer-reviewed article by Evgeni Aizenberg and Jeroen van den Hoven.
Published in Big Data & Society.


In the age of Big Data, companies and governments are increasingly using algorithms to inform hiring decisions, employee management, policing, credit scoring, insurance pricing, and many more aspects of our lives. Artificial intelligence (AI) systems can help us make evidence-driven, efficient decisions, but can also confront us with unjustified, discriminatory decisions wrongly assumed to be accurate because they are made automatically and quantitatively. It is becoming evident that these technological developments are consequential to people’s fundamental human rights. Despite increasing attention to these urgent challenges in recent years, technical solutions to these complex socio-ethical problems are often developed without empirical study of societal context and the critical input of societal stakeholders who are impacted by the technology. On the other hand, calls for more ethically and socially aware AI often fail to provide answers for how to proceed beyond stressing the importance of transparency, explainability, and fairness. Bridging these socio-technical gaps and the deep divide between abstract value language and design requirements is essential to facilitate nuanced, context-dependent design choices that will support moral and social values. In this paper, we bridge this divide through the framework of Design for Values, drawing on methodologies of Value Sensitive Design and Participatory Design to present a roadmap for proactively engaging societal stakeholders to translate fundamental human rights into context-dependent design requirements through a structured, inclusive, and transparent process.