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Artificial intelligence: addressing or distorting the modern slavery challenge?

Brief on leveraging AI's potential and mitigating its risks in efforts to address modern slavery.

Published: 18th October 2023

This investor-focused brief, produced by the Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking Initiative (FAST) at the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR), in collaboration with CCLA Investment Management and the UK Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre, reveals the challenges that investors and businesses face in assessing modern slavery risks, and how these challenges can be overcome by harnessing the capabilities of AI.

The brief also emphasizes that AI brings ethical and legal challenges that require careful consideration and robust safeguards to protect vulnerable populations at risk. In order to both leverage the potential of AI and mitigate against the risks that the adoption of this technology may generate, the brief outlines several recommendations:

  • It is recommended that investors form partnerships, for example with data scientists, civil society organizations, and businesses, to better understand the positive potential and adverse impacts of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and encourage investees to adopt innovative technologies, taking into account safeguarding, that enhance transparency and visibility on modern slavery risks in their value chains.
  • Policymakers should incorporate safeguards and risk mitigation measures to protect victims and survivors of modern slavery; support the ethical and well-designed deployments of new technologies; and provide guidelines and forums for public-private dialogue on best practices related to new technologies.
  • Businesses are in a position to use innovative technologies that improve transparency and visibility on modern slavery risks – but they need to ensure these solutions include safeguard measures to protect workers and vulnerable populations.
  • Technology firms must intentionally incorporate safe and ethical principles when designing AI tools and work with a diverse group of actors to ensure AI data models encompass more inclusive and representative datasets.
  • It is advisable for researchers to further explore the potential and limitations of using AI to aggregate and analyse data to support efforts to address modern slavery risks, and work with the public and private sectors to conduct research and disseminate their findings.