Whitlam Institute and Australian Human Rights Commission invite Western Sydney communities to speak up on how AI and emerging technologies affect them

The Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University will host a Community Consultation on 20 March 2019 in Western Sydney, inviting anyone with an interest to have their say on how technology affects their lives, as part of a major review by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) that will form part of a report with recommendations to be published later this year.

Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow and Whitlam Institute Director Leanne Smith will discuss these complex emerging challenges, and invite participants to share their concerns about how their human rights are affected by emerging technologies including artificial intelligence (AI).

According to human rights lawyer Leanne Smith, Director of the Whitlam Institute, algorithms, data-banking and facial recognition are just some of the ways that technology is having a profound impact on civil rights and liberties in modern democratic societies.

“Concepts such as data protection and privacy are being challenged in the digital age, with legislators playing catch up with the rapid evolution of technologies. We want to know from communities how they are being affected as technological change continues apace, and ensure that human rights remain protected in our democracy.”

The AHRC has conducted a number of consultations around the country and this is the first community consultation to take place in Western Sydney.

Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow said: “We all want the benefits of AI and new technologies, but not at the price of mass surveillance, the exclusion of entire groups and a rise in discrimination. This is an opportunity for Western Sydney to consider how we can harness the opportunities of AI and emerging technologies, while minimising the risk, particularly to vulnerable members of the community.”

As part of the review, all Australians are invited to consider: ‘How does technology affect your rights?’; ‘Who would you trust to make decisions about your freedom: a human or a machine?’ and ‘Has technology become so important in our lives that access to it is now a human right?’.

The consultation will take place at 6pm on Wednesday, 20 March at the Whitlam Institute, Building EZ (Female Orphan School) at Western Sydney University’s Parramatta South campus.

This event is now sold out. Participants unable to attend submit questions via Facebook or Twitter prior to the event with the hashtag  #RIGHTSTECHAU or emailing info@whitlam.org

For more information, visit the Whitlam Institute website.


18 March 2019

Isabel Wagner, Senior Media Officer