The Internet heralded a time of great benefits from digitilisation globally. It was predicted by a Harvard political scientist that teachers connected to the digital world in Lagos, Beijing or Calcutta will be able to access the same electronic journals, books and databases as students at the Sorbonne, Oxford or Harvard. However, it soon became clear that many advantages of digitilisation did not trickle down to lower-income settings. The term ‘digital divide’ was coined to describe three main types of disadvantages and deprivations. First, lack of access to computers and Internet connection. Second, lack of necessary skills or willingness to use digital resources. Third, passive use of Internet facilities (e.g. video streaming) versus active use (e.g. e-voting). SIS could lead to further digital divides, where even previously included businesses and citizens are no longer able to use the benefits of digitilisation in full (e.g. agricultural data analytics may lead to a further growth of large monocultural industrial farms which can afford the technology).
The SHERPA project has undertaken 10 case studies on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics in different application scenarios. This briefing paper describes key insights of the use of these technologies in a small start-up that uses social media data for the purposes of predictive risk intelligence. It raises questions of privacy and data protection but also of power and labour relationships. The case demonstrates that even a small start-up can find ways of addressing such issues, if awareness and willingness are present.
The SHERPA project has analysed human rights implications of Smart Information Systems. This briefing paper describes key insights of a case study on robot use in social care. The case demonstrates that discussions framed around the concept of dignity cause more confusion than enlightenment. Whilst ethical issues of privacy, manipulation, and harm through malfunction require urgent attention, proponents and opponents of robot use in social care use dignity to support their positions. As a result, neither succeeds.
The SHERPA project has analysed human rights implications of Smart Information Systems, placing particular focus on robots. This briefing paper reverses the equation and explores the feasibility and scope of the rights of robots. Although long-debated as to whether ‘things’ can have personhood, it seems that the discussions specifically around ‘human rights for robots’ have turned out to be highly controversial. The main problematic lies around the relationship between humans, robots and things: where do robots belong? What are the possible implications of gathering and using this kind of data?
There is much debate whether hard-hitting legal regulation with respect to AI and big data is required. Our research shows that the danger with this is its potential to cause unforeseen, adverse or chilling effects that are unintended in a field that is very dynamic and fast-developing. There are various proposals for laws, regulatory bodies and other regulatory tools and mechanisms to support, enhance or monitor the responsible development of AI and big data technologies. This briefing, focusing particularly on the EU-level, presents snapshots of policy and other stakeholder perspectives on the regulation of AI, regulatory options and recommendations on potential courses of action based on SHERPA research.