Today, the Equal Rights Trust, together with a group of leading global equality organisations, publishes the Principles on Equality by Design in Algorithmic Decision-Making Systems.
As the use of artificial intelligence and other algorithmic decision-making systems has spread, it has become clear that they are creating, replicating, and exacerbating patterns of discrimination on a wide range of grounds, in a variety of sectors and in many different areas of life. These impacts can be unintended, unforeseen, or challenging to identify or understand. If States and businesses are to identify and eliminate these impacts – and ensure compliance with their legal obligations – a new proactive, pre-emptive, precautionary and participatory approach is needed.
Equality by Design is an approach to system design which requires and enables the discriminatory impacts – and any potential positive equality impacts – of algorithmic systems to be identified, assessed and addressed as an integral part of the development process. The Principles elaborate why States and businesses must adopt such an approach and provide detailed guidance on how to implement equality by design, as an integral element of wider human rights impact assessment procedures and processes.
The Principles were developed by the Equal Rights Trust in consultation and collaboration with experts and activists from across the globe. They are endorsed by a group of international equality organisations who work with groups exposed to discrimination on a wide range of grounds – the Alliance for Universal Digital Rights, Equality Now, Help Age International, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Minority Rights Group International, and Women leading in AI.
Alongside the Principles, the Equal Rights Trust publishes a new report – Discriminatory by Default? – which presents fifteen case studies that exemplify some of the many different ways in which the use of these algorithmic systems can cause discrimination. It includes examples of discriminatory impacts arising on the basis of a wide range of protected grounds – including disability, nationality, sex, race and religion – in various areas of life and at every stage in the development and use of these systems. It includes case studies from across the globe, ranging from Paraguay to the Republic of Korea.
The evidence presented in the Discriminatory by Default? Report underlines the fact that States and businesses must adopt an Equality by Design approach – as an integral element of wider human rights impact assessment procedures – if they are to address the discriminatory risks of these technologies and ensure compliance with their legal obligations.
The Principles on Equality by Design and the report "Discriminatory by Default?" were produced as part of the Trust's Algorithmic Discrimination Initiative, which is supported by Mary Kay incorporated. The Trust is grateful for the generous support of Mary Kay.