(e) Democracy

Key decisions on the regulation of AI development and application should be the result of democratic debate and public engagement. A spirit of global cooperation and public dialogue on the issue will ensure that they are taken in an inclusive, informed, and farsighted manner. The right to receive education or access information on new technologies and their ethical implications will facilitate that everyone understands risks and opportunities and is empowered to participate in decisional processes that crucially shape our future. The principles of human dignity and autonomy centrally involve the human right to self determination through the means of democracy. Of key importance to our democratic political systems are value pluralism, diversity and accommodation of a variety of conceptions of the good life of citizens. They must not be jeopardised, subverted or equalised by new technologies that inhibit or influence political decision making and infringe on the freedom of expression and the right to receive and impart information without interference. Digital technologies should rather be used to harness collective intelligence and support and improve the civic processes on which our democratic societies depend.
Principle: Ethical principles and democratic prerequisites, Mar 9, 2018

Published by European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, European Commission

Related Principles

(c) Responsibility

The principle of responsibility must be fundamental to AI research and application. ‘Autonomous’ systems should only be developed and used in ways that serve the global social and environmental good, as determined by outcomes of deliberative democratic processes. This implies that they should be designed so that their effects align with a plurality of fundamental human values and rights. As the potential misuse of ‘autonomous’ technologies poses a major challenge, risk awareness and a precautionary approach are crucial. Applications of AI and robotics should not pose unacceptable risks of harm to human beings, and not compromise human freedom and autonomy by illegitimately and surreptitiously reducing options for and knowledge of citizens. They should be geared instead in their development and use towards augmenting access to knowledge and access to opportunities for individuals. Research, design and development of AI, robotics and ‘autonomous’ systems should be guided by an authentic concern for research ethics, social accountability of developers, and global academic cooperation to protect fundamental rights and values and aim at designing technologies that support these, and not detract from them.

Published by European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, European Commission in Ethical principles and democratic prerequisites, Mar 9, 2018

(h) Data protection and privacy

In an age of ubiquitous and massive collection of data through digital communication technologies, the right to protection of personal information and the right to respect for privacy are crucially challenged. Both physical AI robots as part of the Internet of Things, as well as AI softbots that operate via the World Wide Web must comply with data protection regulations and not collect and spread data or be run on sets of data for whose use and dissemination no informed consent has been given. ‘Autonomous’ systems must not interfere with the right to private life which comprises the right to be free from technologies that influence personal development and opinions, the right to establish and develop relationships with other human beings, and the right to be free from surveillance. Also in this regard, exact criteria should be defined and mechanisms established that ensure ethical development and ethically correct application of ‘autonomous’ systems. In light of concerns with regard to the implications of ‘autonomous’ systems on private life and privacy, consideration may be given to the ongoing debate about the introduction of two new rights: the right to meaningful human contact and the right to not be profiled, measured, analysed, coached or nudged.

Published by European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, European Commission in Ethical principles and democratic prerequisites, Mar 9, 2018

Public Empowerment

Principle: The public’s ability to understand AI enabled services, and how they work, is key to ensuring trust in the technology. Recommendations: “Algorithmic Literacy” must be a basic skill: Whether it is the curating of information in social media platforms or self driving cars, users need to be aware and have a basic understanding of the role of algorithms and autonomous decision making. Such skills will also be important in shaping societal norms around the use of the technology. For example, identifying decisions that may not be suitable to delegate to an AI. Provide the public with information: While full transparency around a service’s machine learning techniques and training data is generally not advisable due to the security risk, the public should be provided with enough information to make it possible for people to question its outcomes.

Published by Internet Society, "Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Policy Paper" in Guiding Principles and Recommendations, Apr 18, 2017


For the first time in human history, it is possible to create autonomous systems capable of performing complex tasks of which natural intelligence alone was thought capable: processing large quantities of information, calculating and predicting, learning and adapting responses to changing situations, and recognizing and classifying objects. Given the immaterial nature of these tasks, and by analogy with human intelligence, we designate these wide ranging systems under the general name of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence constitutes a major form of scientific and technological progress, which can generate considerable social benefits by improving living conditions and health, facilitating justice, creating wealth, bolstering public safety, and mitigating the impact of human activities on the environment and the climate. Intelligent machines are not limited to performing better calculations than human beings; they can also interact with sentient beings, keep them company and take care of them. However, the development of artificial intelligence does pose major ethical challenges and social risks. Indeed, intelligent machines can restrict the choices of individuals and groups, lower living standards, disrupt the organization of labor and the job market, influence politics, clash with fundamental rights, exacerbate social and economic inequalities, and affect ecosystems, the climate and the environment. Although scientific progress, and living in a society, always carry a risk, it is up to the citizens to determine the moral and political ends that give meaning to the risks encountered in an uncertain world. The lower the risks of its deployment, the greater the benefits of artificial intelligence will be. The first danger of artificial intelligence development consists in giving the illusion that we can master the future through calculations. Reducing society to a series of numbers and ruling it through algorithmic procedures is an old pipe dream that still drives human ambitions. But when it comes to human affairs, tomorrow rarely resembles today, and numbers cannot determine what has moral value, nor what is socially desirable. The principles of the current declaration are like points on a moral compass that will help guide the development of artificial intelligence towards morally and socially desirable ends. They also offer an ethical framework that promotes internationally recognized human rights in the fields affected by the rollout of artificial intelligence. Taken as a whole, the principles articulated lay the foundation for cultivating social trust towards artificially intelligent systems. The principles of the current declaration rest on the common belief that human beings seek to grow as social beings endowed with sensations, thoughts and feelings, and strive to fulfill their potential by freely exercising their emotional, moral and intellectual capacities. It is incumbent on the various public and private stakeholders and policymakers at the local, national and international level to ensure that the development and deployment of artificial intelligence are compatible with the protection of fundamental human capacities and goals, and contribute toward their fuller realization. With this goal in mind, one must interpret the proposed principles in a coherent manner, while taking into account the specific social, cultural, political and legal contexts of their application.

Published by University of Montreal in The Montreal Declaration for a Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence, Dec 4, 2018


New developments in Artificial Intelligence are transforming the world, from science and industry to government administration and finance. The rise of AI decision making also implicates fundamental rights of fairness, accountability, and transparency. Modern data analysis produces significant outcomes that have real life consequences for people in employment, housing, credit, commerce, and criminal sentencing. Many of these techniques are entirely opaque, leaving individuals unaware whether the decisions were accurate, fair, or even about them. We propose these Universal Guidelines to inform and improve the design and use of AI. The Guidelines are intended to maximize the benefits of AI, to minimize the risk, and to ensure the protection of human rights. These Guidelines should be incorporated into ethical standards, adopted in national law and international agreements, and built into the design of systems. We state clearly that the primary responsibility for AI systems must reside with those institutions that fund, develop, and deploy these systems.

Published by The Public Voice coalition, established by Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence, Oct 23, 2018