Technological Experiments in the Digital Age: Artificial Intelligence, Internet Freedoms, and the State

Monday, January 14, 2019
78 Queen's Park Cres., Jackman Law Building, Room J250

How would you feel if an algorithm decided whether you could stay in Canada? What if it determined you are more likely to commit a crime because of the colour of your skin? Or if it trawled through your Tweets or Facebook posts to see if you are a risk to national security, without ever revealing any of the categories it used to make this decision?

Governments are increasingly experimenting with new technologies. From tax, to policing, to immigration, the use of these technologies stretches the boundaries of accountability and oversight. Yet technology is by no means neutral: it reflects our social, cultural, and political attitudes and can be used to justify unequal power dynamics. States like China also increasingly control internet content, infringing on freedom of expression and association and curtailing dissent. The use of new technologies also touches on fundamental questions about the human condition: What counts as intelligence? Can technology be democratic? Will certain groups be disproportionately impacted? How do we ensure that human rights are front and centre in innovation?

This panel brings together a variety of perspectives to talk about technological experiments in the digital age and unpacks some of the complex questions on the frontiers of innovation.


Petra Molnar, Technology and Human Rights Researcher, International Human Rights Program, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Irene P. Poetranto, Senior Researcher, The Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.

Cynthia Wong, Senior Researcher, Internet and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch

To be moderated by Farida Deif, Canada Director, Human Rights Watch