Artificial intelligence (AI) is about so much more than self-driving cars and intelligent assistants on your phone. AI systems are increasingly being used by governments and the private sector to, for example, improve the provision of education, healthcare and welfare services.

While AI is a force for innovation, it also poses risks for children and their rights, such as to their privacy, safety and security. But most AI policies, strategies and guidelines make only cursory mention of children. To help fill this gap, UNICEF has partnered with the Government of Finland to explore approaches to protecting and upholding child rights in an evolving AI world.

As part of our Artificial Intelligence for Children Policy project, UNICEF has developed this guidance to promote children’s rights in government and private sector AI policies and practices, and to raise awareness of how AI systems can uphold or undermine these rights.

The policy guidance explores AI and AI systems, and considers the ways in which they impact children. It draws upon the Convention on the Rights of the Child to present three foundations for AI that upholds the rights of children:

  1. AI policies and systems should aim to protect children
  2. They should provide equitably for children’s needs and rights
  3. They should empower children to contribute to the development and use of AI

Building on these foundations, the guidance offers nine requirements for child-centered AI and provides tools to operationalize the guidance.

This UNICEF report was originally written by Virginia Dignum, Melanie Penagos, Klara Pigmans and Steven Vosloo.

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