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Center affiliates co-host Digital Human Rights Summit

Dec 1 2020

On October 5-7, people from 16 time zones and 5 continents convened in a Digital Human Rights Summit on Responsible Digital Leadership, Information, Infrastructure, and Governance to discuss how a new, human-centric and ethical technology can help solve the biggest challenges of our century and more specifically advance the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This interactive summit was co-organized by the Institut de la Recherche Juridique de la Sorbonne, Stanford University's Center for Human Rights and International Justice, aNewGovernance, and the Institute for Digital Fundamental Human Rights. It was co-convened by Søren Juul Jørgensen, Radhika Shah, Matthias De Bièvre, Center Director David Cohen and Professor Laurent Vidal.

The first day: inspiring talks from over the world

The first day, several inspiring talks set the frame of the discussions of the summit (full video). 

Eric Pol, chairman of aNewGovernance, stated the importance of a new global collaboration to define rules for bringing trust into the digital world and ensure that it serves human communication and progress.

Yee Fen Lim, Professor at NTU in Singapore, Thomas Krogh Petersen, CEO of Copenhagen Fintech, and Andrea Kates, CEO of Futureproofing.Next, in a panel about Ethical AI in the financial sector moderated by Soren Juul Jorgensen, stressed the importance of ethical guidelines and regulations in the development of technology in the financial sector. In addition, the panel discussed the importance of being able to demonstrate how respecting ethical standards has clear business value for organizations.

In the next session, Jean-Marie Cavada, former European Member of Parliament and President of the Institute for Digital Fundamental Rights (iDFRights) and Laurent Vidal, associate professor at the Paris 1 Sorbonne University, lawyer and Vice-President of the iDFRights, discussed fundamental digital rights. These participants articulated an alternative way of addressing digital technologies beyond the All-State or All-Market modes—one they described as a humanistic approach to digital technology—and how a fourth generation of human rights is necessary: a declaration of digital fundamental rights.

Antii Poikola, representing MyData.org, Mika Huhtamaki, CEO of MyData SHARE at Vastuu Group, and Matthias De Bièvre, CEO of Visions, founding member of the iDFRights and co-founder of aNewGovernance, participated in a panel about creating human-centric skills data ecosystems and demonstrated that in the world of fast changing skills and jobs, better access to skills data about people is necessary. A human-centric way, where people are in control of their data, provides clear solutions to tackle this issue. The Skills Alliance of aNewGovernance is uniting organizations from around the world to define standards and practices in accessing skills data to provide better learning and professional recommendations to people.

In a panel moderated by Radhika Shah, Chair of Innovation Advisory Group and Fellow at the Stanford Center for Human Rights & International Justice, Stanford Professor Jeff Ullman and UC-Berkeley professor Josh Blumenstock discussed the role of artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and data science in accelerating the SDGs. The participants showed examples in Togo, where wide access to personal data helped correctly direct public aid funds, demonstrated the complexity of defining “one-size-fits all” ethical and privacy rules on data access, and concluded that solutions should be specific to the use cases.

Paul Theyskens, director of the Mobility Living Lab, and Olivier Dion, CEO of Onecub and co-founder of aNewGovernance, joined in a presentation about human-centric mobility data ecosystems, showing how better access to people’s mobility data would help design better and more responsible mobility solutions. Likewise, data access should be done in a human-centric way, and the mobility alliance of aNewGovernance is uniting organizations around the world to define human-centric standards for accessing citizens’ mobility data.

This first day was an exceptional convergence of experts and organizations from across the globe to highlight the necessity of new, human-centric rules for technology and data. It was also stated that these rules cannot be centrally defined in a top-down manner but rather based on concrete and plural study groups and use cases to make sure they respond to each situation’s specific needs and realities.

The second day: the interactive workshops

On the second day, participants and students from over 40 countries participated in several workshops led by Matthias De Bièvre, Søren Juul Jorgensen and their colleagues. One workshop in particular focused on launching work on the “Ethical Dilemma Library.” Inspired by a presentation by Professor Vivek Krishnamurthy of the work on AI and Human Rights at the Berkman-Klein Center at Harvard University and a presentation by Director Mark Nitzberg from UC-Berkeley on the perspectives for the use of artificial intelligence in the financial sector, participants discussed some of the challenges, risks and solutions related to the use of technology in the financial sector in cross-cultural groups.

The technical workshop was focused on the interoperability of MyData Operators, which provide tools for people to manage their data and their permissions. Several operators (Visions, Vastuu, GDPR.DEV) participated in order to compare their technologies and start interoperability discussions between them. The interoperability work will continue with more MyData operators.

The governance workshop discussed the creation of an international governance body for human-centric personal data-sharing standards, animated by aNewGovernance and the Institute for Digital Fundamental Rights. Participants stated that clear business rules and models must be designed on data access. Participants also called for an international declaration of digital human rights that could unite countries and organizations around the world. This declaration would serve as a common denominator, shared by multiple countries to organize an international governance of personal data sharing. The participants also made clear that this international collaboration could only happen in democratic countries where human rights are respected.

The second day of workshops allowed participants to get to know one another better, define the basis of future collaborations, and initiatie in-depth discussions of some of the challenges we face using technology such as AI and ML.

The third day: Keynotes from Kenya and India

The last day was organized around two major panels and the restitution of the workshops as well as the presentation of the next steps (full video).

The first panel was focused on the presentation of Kenya's work on creating a digital platform to help Kenyan youth find jobs, AGIRA. Radhika Shah, who is also a pro-bono advisor to the Kenya SDG Partnership Platform, framed some context on how Kenya has been setting an example by embracing digital innovation and the collaboration between Silicon Valley and Kenya to advance SDGs. The Kenyan ICT Minister’s cabinet secretary Joseph Mucheru presented Kenya’s work on this new digital infrastructure and its innovative use of skills data. Then the head of UN Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee, called for new public-private collaborations at the international level to break silos and allow a new, humanistic technology at the service of the SDGs.

Radhika Shah moderated the second panel, which revolved around India’s public-private partnerships and harnessing the power of innovative tech and policy measures in India to ensure its digital transformation remains true to the spirit of the SDGs. Dr. Dinsha Mitra, Lecturer and Research Fellow at Stanford Law School, Arvind Gupta, CEO/founder of the Digital India Foundation, and Sanvar Oberoi, an Ashoka Fellow, core member of Responsible AI for Social Empowerment, and co-founder of BOHECO, provided the attendees with a vision of India’s digital transition initiatives including Adharid, Indiastack and the new Responsible AI initiative.

In conclusion, this three-day summit of technical and legal workshops and interactive panels in collaboration with a wide variety of digital transformation actors in both the public and private spheres was an excellent platform for learning more about the ecosystem as well as the concrete initiatives being taken to ensure a human-centric and ethical digital transition throughout the world.

As next steps, the organizers (Stanford Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University, aNewGovernance, and the Institute for Digital Fundamental Rights) will collaborate on a range of issues relating to human rights and governance and responsible use of technology in business including defining basic digital rights, focussing on the future of work, tech for sustainable development, and responsible digital leadership and new governance models.