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Access Now resigns from the Partnership on AI

Access Now announces its official resignation from the Partnership on AI (PAI). Below is a letter sent to the PAI Leadership Team.

Dear PAI Leadership Team,

We write to inform you of Access Now’s resignation from the Partnership on AI.

We do not make this decision lightly. During the last year as PAI members, we have enjoyed the opportunity to meet with other stakeholders working to advance norms on artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making (ADM) systems. We have learned from the conversations with our peers and PAI has afforded us the chance to contribute to the larger discussion on artificial intelligence in a new forum.

However, we have found that there is an increasingly smaller role for civil society to play within PAI. We joined PAI hoping it would be a helpful forum for civil society to make an impact on corporate behavior and to establish evidence-based policies and best practises that will ensure that the use of AI systems is for the benefit of people and society. While we support dialogue between stakeholders, we did not find that PAI influenced or changed the attitude of member companies or encouraged them to respond to or consult with civil society on a systematic basis. 

Additionally, the lack of consensus and radically differing views between stakeholders has led to outputs that have not been useful for our organizational priorities considering the strong positions Access Now has taken on AI and ADM. As a human rights organization, we support human rights impact assessments and red lines around use of these technologies, rather than an ethics, risk-based, or sandboxing approach. We are also advocating for an outright ban on technologies that are fundamentally incompatible with human rights, such as facial recognition or other biometric technologies that enable mass surveillance. 

We recognize that PAI outputs cannot match or be brought in line with Access Now’s positioning on these issues. The events of this year, from the public health crisis to the global reckoning on racial justice, have only underscored the urgency of addressing the risks of these technologies in a meaningful way. As more government authorities around the world are open to imposing outright bans on technologies like facial recognition, we want to continue to focus our efforts where they will be most impactful to achieve our priorities.

PAI has afforded us a good learning experience and we wish you the best going forward.


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