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Digital Child’s Play

UN develops policy on AI

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 29 November, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news
UN develops policy on AI
Representative image

Artificial intelligence 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.

Ahead of a global forum on AI for children, UN News spoke to two UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) experts about the need for improved policy protection.

Children are already interacting with AI technologies in many different ways: they are embedded in toys, virtual assistants, video games, and adaptive learning software. Their impact on children's lives is profound, yet UNICEF found that, when it comes to AI policies and practices, children’s rights are an afterthought, at best.

In response, the UN children’s agency has developed draft Policy Guidance on AI for Children to promote children's rights, and raise awareness of how AI systems can uphold or undermine these rights.

Conor Lennon from UN News asked Jasmina Byrne, Policy Chief at the UNICEF Global Insights team, and Steven Vosloo, a UNICEF data, research and policy specialist, about the importance of putting children at the centre of AI-related policies.

Steven Vosloo said, “We saw that AI was a very hot topic, and something that would fundamentally change society and the economy, particularly for the coming generations. But when we looked at national AI strategies, and corporate policies and guidelines, we realised that not enough attention was being paid to children, and to how AI impacts them.