Recent progress in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems, unprecedented amounts of data to train algorithms, and increased computing power are expected to profoundly impact life and work in the 21st century, raising both hopes and concerns for human development.
However, despite the growing interest in AI, it appears that little attention is paid to how it will impact on children and their rights. A UNICEF review of national AI strategies and ethical guidelines shows that there is a vacuum for considered and practical guidance on AI and children. Ensuring that children develop and thrive in an AI world will require the involvement of a range of stakeholders, from those that develop and use AI products, to those that teach data literacy to children and caregivers, to governments that provide policy and regulatory frameworks.
In order to fill the policy gap and by convening key stakeholders, UNICEF will develop a policy guidance for governments, businesses, the non-profit sector and the Organization itself, which, if applied, will help create environments that support the safe and beneficial use of AI systems for children’s development. UNICEF’s Office of Global Insight and Policy (OGIP) will lead the development of the guidance, to be published in Q2 of 2020. The guidance aims to bring a balanced perspective to the policy table, avoiding the current AI hype and providing clear, usable principles. The work is part of a 2-year project on AI and Child Rights Policy, with the following key activities and outputs:
The development of an AI and child rights policy guidance for national policymakers, corporations and the UN system.
Wide consultation for international input into the guidance through at least three regional workshops (location to be decided).
Consultation with children to ensure that children’s voices are taken into account.
The guidance will also be available online for global public review to seek wide input.
Convening of a conference on AI and Child Rights in Q2 2020 in Helsinki.
Global pilots of the guidance, including by Finland, and the write up of case studies to share lessons learned about how the guidance was interpreted.
About OGIP: The OGIP was established to develop policy recommendations on new, complex or cross-cutting issues affecting children in order to inform UNICEF’s engagement and positioning, review the viability of policy solutions and provide policy guidance to UNICEF’s Country Offices and National Committees on how to integrate issues of growing importance into concrete actions.
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