Artificial Intelligence

Governance of AI and Gender: Building on International Human Rights Law and Relevant Regional Frameworks

By Elizabeth Coombs (University of Malta) &  Halefom Abraha (University of Oxford)

The increasing uptake of artificial intelligence (AI)1 systems across industries and social activities raises questions as to who benefits from these systems and who does not, and whether existing regulatory frameworks are adequate to address AI-driven harms. Policy-makers around the world are grappling with the challenges of addressing the perils of AI without undermining its promises. Emerging regulatory approaches range from sectoral regulations and omnibus frameworks to abstract principles. This chapter examines the place of gender in the current and emerging AI governance frameworks. It examines the effectiveness of current mechanisms to address the gender implications of AI technologies by reviewing significant regional and national frameworks with a particular focus on whether they are ‘fit for purpose’ in addressing AI-driven gender harms.

The chapter finds that existing legal frameworks including data protection, anti- discrimination, anti-trust, consumer or equality law, have significant gaps as they apply to AI systems generally and AI-driven gender disparities in particular. It also argues that the proliferation of self-imposed standards and abstract ethical principles without enforcement mechanisms fall short in addressing the complex regulatory challenges of AI-driven gender harms. The chapter then makes the case for bringing the issue of gender to the centre of AI regulation discourse and recommends AI regulation frameworks to be based upon the international human rights instruments, with gender as a mainstreamed element, as these frameworks are more representative, enforceable and concerned with protecting the vulnerable.

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