In our increasingly digital world, algorithms are everywhere and rule our lives. How can humans ensure they stay in control? This study identifies a number of human rights concerns triggered by the increasing role of algorithms in decision-making.
Depending on the types of functions performed by algorithms and the level of abstraction and complexity of the automated processing that is used, their impact on the exercise of human rights will vary.
Who is responsible when human rights are infringed based on algorithmically-prepared decisions? The person who programmed the algorithm, the operator of the algorithm, or the human being who implemented the decision?
Is there a difference between such a decision and a human-made decision?
The expert study "Algorithms and human rights - Study on the human rights dimensions of automated data processing techniques and possible regulatory implications", published in March 2018 by the Council of Europe, examines the effects of the use of algorithms on the way in which human rights are exercised and guaranteed in accordance with well-established human rights standards, including rule of law principles and judiciary processes.
Challenges related to the human rights impact of algorithms and automated data processing techniques are bound to grow as related systems are becoming increasingly complex and interact with each other’s outputs in ways that become progressively impenetrable to the human mind.
This report does not intend to comprehensively address all aspects related to the human rights impacts of algorithms but rather seeks to map out some of the main current concerns from the Council of Europe’s human rights perspective, and to look at possible regulatory options that member states may consider to minimise adverse effects, or to promote good practices.