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Rights declaration as important as 75 years ago

China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-09 08:45
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Ethics of technology and human rights in digital age

Science and technology have played a key role in the protection of human rights since the dawn of industrial society. In today's digital age, new technologies represented by generative artificial intelligence are changing the way people live and work.

AI has made our lives and work more convenient, but it has also caused problems such as risks of personal information leaks, weakening of data security, "black box" algorithms, deepfakes, information cocooning, big data-enabled price discrimination against existing customers, the widening digital divide, and "data poisoning". These are some of the real human rights issues that countries need to address.

There is an increasing need to raise people's awareness of the ethics of AI technology, strengthen AI governance, ensure AI innovations are safe and ethical, and see to it that the development of science and technology strengthens human rights protection.

Chinese society has always attached great importance to ethical and moral standards. China has a distinctive and rich ethical and moral evaluation system, which represents a significant strength of the Chinese civilization.

Digital technology has been advancing in leaps and bounds, and digital transformation is progressing at an accelerated pace. China, as a digital resources powerhouse, is already a major player in digital governance. It should strive to strengthen the governance of AI technology ethics in order to promote global human rights governance in the digital era.

First, it is necessary to ensure science and technology are used for the good of humankind, and their use is ethical. People's awareness of AI ethics should be raised to promote the healthy development of the AI sector, and ensure that high-tech innovations help fulfill people's yearning for a better life.

Second, there is a need to strengthen the ethical governance of science and technology, particularly by tightening legal supervision, strengthening ethical reviews and promoting law-based governance.

Third, it is essential to specify the responsible parties and reinforce the ethical oversight throughout the industry chains, including the design, R&D and production links, so as to ensure that scientific R&D activities adhere to ethical values and comply with universally accepted behavioral norms.

Science and technology have a profound effect on people's lives today, unlike 75 years ago when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drawn up. We can effectively promote global human rights governance in the era of AI technology only if we adapt to the new situation and new characteristics of the human rights cause, attach due value to the ethical review of science and technology developments, optimize the governance of science and technology, and strike a balance between technology innovations and human rights protection, so as to better protect and promote human rights in the digital era.

Han Xiutao, director of the Center for SciTech and Human Rights Studies, Beijing Institute of Technology

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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