28 DECEMBER 2021
GLOBAL FORUM ON AI FOR CHILDREN
UNICEF and the Government of Finland hosted the virtual conference on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Children recently and this first of its kind event discussed the children’s foremost rights, digital technology policies and AI systems.
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been used in products targeting children for several years, but legislation protecting them from the potential impacts of the technology is still in its infancy,” said UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) experts.
“Children interact with digital technologies all the time, but they are not aware, and many adults are not aware, that many of the toys or platforms they use are powered by artificial intelligence,” reports the UN News on Human Rights.
“The AI could be using natural language processing to understand words and instructions, and so it’s collecting a lot of data from the child, including intimate conversations, and that data is being stored in the cloud, often on commercial servers. So there are privacy concerns,” said two experts, Jasmina Byrne and Steven Vosloo from UNICEF.
In November 2021, UNICEF released a guide for Parents to know more about the opportunities and risk of AI and specifically highlighted the risk such as bias that occurs due to assumptions made during the development process, prejudices in the training data or design errors. Safety risks may also occur when systems are “poorly designed, regulated, misused or hacked”. Profiling and deception are other aspects that endanger the children’s development while using AI-enabled systems.
The Report namely “Policy brief National AI strategies and Children” by UNICEF reviews the profound impact of AI on life and work in the 21st century and “the policy makers urgently need to prioritize children’s issues in the development of the national AI strategies”.
UNICEF analyzed 20 national AI strategies and found that ‘most make only cursory mention of children and their specific needs’.
A draft Policy guidance on AI for children – Version 2.0 was formulated offering nine requirements including protecting children’s data and privacy, safety for children, ensuring safety for children and empowering governments and business with knowledge of AI and children’s rights.