Technological revolution. An approach to the new technologies from the perspective of human rights

AutorIsabel-Victoria Lucena Cid
Cargo del AutorDoctora con Sobresaliente cum Laude por la Universidad Pablo de Olavide de Sevilla, con mención de Doctora Europea
1. Introduction
The Human Rights Centre at Berkeley University in California held a multidisciplinary
event in May of 2009 promoted by intellectuals, members of civil society, human rights
activists, programmers and representatives of technology firms. The purpose of this
meeting was to share ideas and reflect on the new technological context, and to agree on
a shared agenda for action within the framework of the international conference, with the
suggestive title of: The Soul of the New Machine: Human Rights, Technology & New
Media. Later, in 2011, also in Berkeley, another conference was held, along the same
lines, Advancing the New Machine: A Conference on Human Rights and Technology1. In
Spain, the Festival of Internet Freedom, held every year in Valencia since 2015, and other
similar forums highlight the interest and need to tackle this issue. Study and analysis of
the relationship between technology and human rights has reached traditional
international actors such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. These
organisations and other United Nations institutions have spearheaded the development of
specialist programmes within their organisations, using remote detection devices and data
analysis in the area of security, etc. These practices are a sign of the growing and vibrant
ecosystem interested in applying technologies to protect and promote human rights
(Piracés, 2018). Following these first conferences and new settings for discussion, major
efforts have been made to promote debate among representatives of the technology
1 “Soul of the New Machine,” UC Berkeley School of Law,
center/past-projects/technology-projects/soul-of-the-new-machine/. “Advancing the New Machine: A
Conference on Human Rights and Technology,” UC Berkeley School of Law,
new-machine-a-conference-on-human-rights-and-technology/ .
Isabel-Victoria Lucena Cid
business sector and advocates for human rights throughout the world. Private institutions
such as the MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Oak Foundation, Humanity United
and Open Society Foundations, among others, have shown increasing interest in tackling
these questions (Piracés, 2018).
At this point in the 21st Century, no one is untouched by the development of science in
many spheres of knowledge and its massive technological application in all sectors of
society. The emergence of a new paradigm is now a reality whose horizon is still hard to
define. The transformation of the usual channels through which social, commercial,
political, cultural, etc., relations flow, provoked by this technological revolution, invites
us to reflect on this new reality (Sartor, 2016).
Global connections made through the Internet and vast databases, interlinked in
cyberspace, mean that almost everything pertaining to an individual can be discovered,
analysed and exploited by any subject, company or State, with no greater obstacles if the
right technological media are available, (Uicich, 1999). In light of this global
phenomenon, there is an urgent need to protect freedom, security and privacy, etc., and
guarantee citizens a space free from the intromission of third parties, either private or
public control. However, technological development in the field of information and
communication is not the only sphere in which the protection of human rights can be
undermined. Progress made with regard to smart systems and devices, Artificial
Intelligence (AI), is an unstoppable phenomenon. The coexistence of natural and artificial
intelligence is having and will have consequences for society and its citizens in all spheres
of their existence. This is an ever-expanding field that drives us to define fundamental
questions related with the legislation of this sphere. The accelerated and incessant
research and the application of AI highlight the gaps and shortcomings of traditional
‘analogical’ legal theories to respond to the needs and demands of the current
technological context.
The digitalisation of information, the perfecting of new digital devices, the integration of
smart systems and the Internet of Things, insert us into an increasingly computerised
world, dependent on these technologies, with the consequent vulnerability of citizens. An
unprecedented social and cultural transformation will affect work, as we know it,
medicine, personal relations, commercial transactions, politics, economics, teaching and
learning processes, education and the generation of knowledge, culture, etc. The
progressive imposition of this new model brings about questions and problems that must
be dealt with: digital inequality, dangers for freedom, security and privacy, greater control

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