The Role of Technology Assessment Tools in Ensuring that AI Benefits All

Doaa Abu-Elyounes
UNESCO, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and Ecole Normale Superieure


Starting from 2016, the number of soft law instruments for governing the use and development of AI proliferated. Governments, private sector companies, international organizations and civil society developed guidelines, principles, codes of conduct and best practices, attempting to balance between the opportunities brought by the technology and its embodied risks. While this mode of governance has certain advantages, there are also significant limitations related to the nature of such instruments and the fact that they are not binding. 

There is a broad consensus even among organizations that developed those principles, that steps need to be taken in order to move from principles to practice. In recent years, different quantitative tools that aim to measure the impact of AI started to be developed. This talk will examine the role such tools play in moving from principles to practice. The talk will highlight the characteristics that such tools should include in order to ensure that they are fulfilling their promise and benefiting all. It will build on an overview of more than 30 existing indices, conducted by UNESCO, it will discuss the gaps identified and suggest how they can be bridged.