Human Lives Human Rights: In a many different ways, children interact with AI technologies embedded in toys, virtual assistants, video games, and adaptive learning software.
The impact of AI systems on children’s lives is profound, yet when it comes to AI policies and practices, children’s rights are an afterthought, at best.
The UN children’s agency has developed draft Policy Guidance on AI for Children to promote children’s rights, and raise awareness of how AI systems can uphold or undermine these rights.
AI is a very hot topic, that would fundamentally change society and the economy, particularly for the coming generations. But when looked at national AI strategies, and corporate policies and guidelines, not enough attention is being paid to children, and how AI impacts them.
AI has been in development for many decades. It is neither harmful nor benevolent on its own. It’s the application of these technologies that makes them either beneficial or harmful.
There are many positive applications of AI that can be used in in education for personalized learning. It can be used in healthcare, language simulation and processing, and it is being used to support children with disabilities.
It helps to predict the spread of disease, and improve poverty estimations. But there are also many risks that are associated with the use of AI technologies.
Children interact with digital technologies all the time, but they’re not aware, and many adults are not aware, that many of the toys or platforms they use are powered by artificial intelligence. That’s why there has to be a special consideration given to children and because of their special vulnerabilities.
The AI could be using natural language processing to understand words and instructions, and so it’s collecting a lot of data from that child, including intimate conversations, and that data is being stored in the cloud, often on commercial servers. So, there are privacy concerns.
Earlier such types of toys were hacked, and they were banned in Germany, because they were considered to be safe enough.
Younger children are using social media platforms or video sharing platforms that weren’t designed with them in mind. They are often designed for maximum engagement, and are built on a certain level of profiling based on data sets that may not represent children.
AI may profile children in a way that puts them in a certain bucket, and this may determine what kind of educational opportunities they have in the future, or what benefits parents can access for children.
So, the AI is not just impacting them today, but it could set their whole life course on a different direction.
Research found that the data footprint that children leave by using digital technology is commercialized and used by third parties for their own profit and for their own gain. They’re often targeted by ads that are not really appropriate for them.
Governments need to think and put children at the center of all their policy-making around frontier digital technologies. If we don’t think about them and their needs. Then we are really missing great opportunities.