UNDP releases first of its kind analysis on the use of AI by businesses and its potential impact on human rights

The report identifies risks and recommends mitigation strategies for policymakers and businesses in health, finance, retail, and gig to mainstream and protect human rights in India.

July 12, 2022

Artificial Intelligence and Potential Impacts on Human Rights in India

UNDP India

New Delhi, 8 July 2022: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India has released a report 'Artificial Intelligence and Potential Impacts on Human Rights in India.' The report is a first-of-its-kind analysis of Artificial Intelligence (AI) across four sectors - health, finance, retail, and gig. It emphasizes that the intersection of AI with human rights is critical for job creation, engaged and equitable digital public, and meaningful protection of human rights.  

The report was released by Ms. Anna Roy, Senior Adviser, Data Management and Analysis and Frontier Technology, NITI Aayog, Mr. Benoît Sauveroche, First Counsellor for Digital transformation, European Union Delegation to India, Ms. Swati Samaddar, Government & Regulatory Affairs, Public Policy, Communications, IBM, Mr. Dennis Curry, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP India, and Mr. Amit Kumar, Head, Inclusive growth, UNDP India.

“For India, AI presents a significant opportunity. However, responsible AI - in its impacts, design, and development - is critical to ensuring the well-being of all. This newly-released report on AI and Human Rights by UNDP and Aapti Institute is an important addition to our knowledge and a timely and practical call to action for stakeholders to act,” said Ms. Anna Roy, Senior Advisor NITI Aayog.

The report found that the issue of algorithmic bias has the greatest impact on financial services, healthcare, retail, and gig worker industries. Among these sectors, the most impacted workers belong to the vulnerable and marginalized sections for whom direct access to technology is limited, thus restricting their ability to seek recourse if they feel violated by an automated decision made by their employers.

The report highlighted risks to privacy and financial access in the financial sector, relying on AI-based credit scoring. For example, AI has been reported to score female applicants lower than males despite similar financial backgrounds.

In the healthcare sector, which relies on predictive healthcare analytics, the report said there are risks to life, equality, and privacy arising from the lack of diverse data sets. There are also risks to individual autonomy because of the inability of the doctor and patient to understand how and why the AI arrived at a particular decision.

In the retail sector, the report found, there is a risk of loss of jobs owing to AI-led automation. There is also discrimination and erosion of worker autonomy because of reliance on software-based training datasets in largely black and white terms.

The report identified the risk of the inadequacy of income and poor working conditions due to dependence on AI algorithms that determine ratings and work allocation in gig work. There is also a risk of lack of effective remedy and grievance redressal. The unaccountable nature of the algorithm results and the lack of a legal requirement for explainable AI worsen the plight of the workers who are left in the dark regarding their ratings.

"Artificial intelligence is improving lives in many ways, from faster diagnoses of illnesses to smarter homes. However, to realize the positive benefits of the technology, we need to build inclusive, resilient digital ecosystems which are rights-based and leave no one behind. Our Business and Human Rights Asia programme aims to foster responsible AI cooperation across stakeholders for an empowering digital future for everyone," said Mr. Dennis Currys, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP India.

The report was commissioned by UNDP under its Business and Human Rights Asia (B+HR Asia) programme supported by the European Union. Aapti Institute undertook the research for the report through a two-part framework – identification of human rights risks and suggested strategies for mitigation. A combination of desk research and interviews with key stakeholders in the ecosystem were used.

Mr. Benoît Sauveroche, First Counsellor for Digital transformation, European Union Delegation, said, "While AI is becoming part of our daily life, the ethical impact continues to be an area of concern for both Europe and India. With its hands-on approach, the report brings to light, practical issues shared by many nations but in the Indian context. Doing so contains recommendations adapted to the local context, which can have a wider ambit. It is, therefore, an excellent basis to foster meaningful discussion and exchange of good practices at the international level."

The report also recommends sector-wise risk mitigation strategies for the meaningful protection of human rights. These include:

  • Strengthening regulation on data protection, privacy, and use of artificial intelligence technology by stipulating liability and accountability and strengthening capacity-building measures for businesses,
  • Creation of explainable AI by businesses which should be applied responsibly,
  • Collaboration with industry members for upskilling of workers, and
  • Remedy frameworks (State and non-state) should be consumer and worker-centric, focusing on spreading awareness and facilitating workers' legal redressal and welfare measures.

Link to the complete report: https://www.undp.org/india/publications/artificial-intelligence-and-potential-impacts-human-rights-india

About UNDP

UNDP works across 170 countries and territories to eradicate poverty while protecting the planet. We help countries develop strong policies, skills, partnerships, and institutions so they can sustain their progress. UNDP has worked in India since 1951 in almost all areas of human development, from systems strengthening to inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods, as well as sustainable energy, environment, and resilience. UNDP's programmes continue integrating a global vision for catalytic change with India's national priorities. With over 30 projects on the ground in almost every State today, it works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by transforming traditional models to develop differently.

For more information, please visit https://www.in.undp.org/

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About B+HR Asia

UNDP B+HR Asia: Enabling Sustainable Economic Growth through the Protect, Respect, and Remedy Framework is a multi-country project promoting the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in close partnership with Asian governments, businesses, and civil society, through dialogue, training, research, small grant provision, and awareness-raising activities.

The joint EU-UNDP action aims to strengthen human rights conditions in business operations and supply chains, facilitating sustainable economic growth while promoting multilateralism.

For more information, please contact:

Ankita Bhalla

Communications Officer, UNDP India



Apekshita Varshney

Communications Consultant, UNDP B+HR Asia