What is Artificial Intelligence?

The world is witnessing great advancements in technology. The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) was coined by John McCarthy, Alan Turing, Marvin Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester, and Claude E. Shannon in a proposal that they wrote for the famous Dartmouth conference in the Summer of 1956.[1] The development of Artificial Intelligence has made things easy for both businesses and the government.  Artificial intelligence (AI) are system designed and programmed to work or act like humans. The process includes AI solving complex problems, learning, and improving themselves over time. At the rate the technology is developing, experts believe that AI will eventually mimic and perform tasks like a human.[2] Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one such technical field that is transforming human society into one of robots and machines. AI includes machine learning, natural language processing, big data analytics, algorithms, and much more.[3] According to Wikipedia Artificial intelligence is intelligence demonstrated by machines, as opposed to the natural intelligence displayed by animals including humans.[4] According to Britannica artificial intelligence (AI), is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience.[5]

From the various definitions, artificial intelligence is the ability of machines to do what humans can do and achieve the same results. Sometimes, these results are achieved faster. Some people have argued that the results achieved by artificial intelligence are not just faster but more accurate than those achieved by humans[6], while others argue that Artificial Intelligence cannot replace human intelligence.[7]

Regardless of the school of thought that one subscribes to, Artificial Intelligence has come to stay and will continue to make an impact on our daily lives.

Advantages of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has both its good and bad sides. According to Sunil Kumar[8], the following are the advantages and disadvantages of Artificial Intelligence.

1) Reduction in Human Error:

The phrase “human error” was born because humans make mistakes from time to time. Computers, however, do not make these mistakes if they are programmed properly. With Artificial intelligence, the decisions are taken from the previously gathered information by applying a certain set of algorithms. So errors are reduced and the chance of reaching accuracy with a greater degree of precision is a possibility.

2) Takes risks instead of Humans:

This is one of the biggest advantages of Artificial intelligence. We can overcome many risky limitations of humans by developing an AI Robot which in turn can do the risky things for us. Let it be going to mars, defusing a bomb, exploring the deepest parts of oceans, mining for coal and oil, it can be used effectively in any kind of natural or man-made disaster.

3) Available 24/7:

An Average human will work for 4–6 hours a day excluding the breaks. Humans are built in such a way to get some time out for refreshing themselves and get ready for a new day of work and they even have weekly offed to stay intact with their work-life and personal life. But using AI we can make machines work 24×7 without any breaks and they don’t even get bored, unlike humans.

4) Helping in Repetitive Jobs:

In our day-to-day work, we will be performing many repetitive works like sending a thanking mail, verifying certain documents for errors, and many more things. Using AI, we can productively automate these mundane tasks and can even remove “boring” tasks for humans and free them up to be increasingly creative.

5) Digital Assistance:

Some highly advanced organizations use digital assistants to interact with users which saves the need for human resources. Digital assistants are also used on many websites to provide things that users want. We can chat with them about what we are looking for. Some chatbots are designed in such a way that it’s become hard to determine whether we’re chatting with a chatbot or a human being.

6) Faster Decisions:

Using AI alongside other technologies we can make machines take decisions faster than a human and carry out actions quicker. While taking a decision humans will analyse many factors both emotionally and practically but an AI-powered machine works on what it is programmed and delivers the results in a faster way.

7) New Inventions:

AI is powering many inventions in almost every domain which will help humans solve the majority of complex problems. For instance, doctors can predict breast cancer in women at earlier stages using advanced AI-based technologies.

As every bright side has a darker version in it. Artificial Intelligence also has some disadvantages. Here are some of them as espoused by Sunil[9]

1) High Costs of Creation:

As AI is updating every day the hardware and software need to get updated with time to meet the latest requirements. Machines need repairing and maintenance which need plenty of costs. Its creation requires huge costs as they are very complex machines.

2) Making Humans Lazy:

AI is making humans lazy with its applications automating the majority of the work. Humans tend to get addicted to these inventions which can cause a problem for future generations.

3) Unemployment:

As AI is replacing the majority of the repetitive tasks and other work with robots, human interference is becoming less which will cause a major problem in the employment standards. Every organization is looking to replace the minimum qualified individuals with AI robots that can do similar work with more efficiency.

4) No Emotions:

There is no doubt that machines are much better when it comes to working efficiently but they cannot replace the human connection that makes the team. Machines cannot develop a bond with humans which is an essential attribute when comes to Team Management.

5) Lacking Out of Box Thinking:

Machines can perform only those tasks which they are designed or programmed to do, anything out of that they tend to crash or give irrelevant outputs which could be a major backdrop.

Artificial intelligence and Human Rights

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms which citizens enjoy. In Nigeria, these rights are enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution.[10] Some of these rights include:

1.     Right to life

2.     Right to Dignity of the human person,

3.     Right to Personal Liberty

4.     Right to Fair Hearing

5.     Right to Private and Family Life

6.     Right to peaceful assembly and association

7.     Right to freedom of movement

8.     Right to freedom from discrimination

9.     Right to acquire and own immovable property in Nigeria

As artificial intelligence continues to make inroads into human activities, the potential for breach of human rights is not minimal. Artificial intelligence has helped humans to be efficient and achieve more within a short time. However, the risk it poses to human rights needs to be checked. “Artificial intelligence can be a force for good, helping societies overcome some of the great challenges of our times. But AI technologies can have negative, even catastrophic, effects if they are used without sufficient regard to how they affect people’s human rights”.[11]

It is ultimately up to businesses to carefully consider the opportunities new technologies provide and how they can best leverage these opportunities while being conscious of the impact on human rights.[12] Here are some ways that Artificial Intelligence affects human rights.

Breach of Data protection and privacy

Artificial intelligence gathers data from people without their consent. For instance, data is gathered from mobile and electronic devices, to assist some organisations to make data-driven decisions or sending tailored adverts. Data collected by means of AI also raises privacy issues like informed consent freely given, being able to opt-out, limiting data collection, describing the nature of AI processing, and even being able to delete data on request. However, how would human subjects of the collected data, perhaps given a spillover effect, even know data was collected about them to be able to make any inquiries of organizations with respect to their own data or to request that it be deleted?[13]

Freedom of Expression

Artificial intelligence stifles freedom of expression. A number of social media platforms, have AI that flags people’s posts and sometimes outrightly deletes them. However, no one knows the yardstick or criteria used to flag or judge certain contents as illegal. This tends to limit the right to freedom and expression and also the right to freedom of association, especially in cases users are suspended and their accounts deleted.


To curb crime, there are AI developed to recognize faces. There have been complaints that it promotes discrimination and racism. According to Amnesty International,the technology exacerbates systemic racism as it could disproportionately impact people of colour, who are already subject to discrimination and violations of their human rights by law enforcement officials. Black people are also most at risk of being misidentified by facial recognition systems.[14] Machines function on the basis of what humans tell them. If a system is fed with human biases (conscious or unconscious) the result will inevitably be biased. The lack of diversity and inclusion in the design of AI systems is therefore a key concern: instead of making our decisions more objective, they could reinforce discrimination and prejudices by giving them an appearance of objectivity.[15]

Liability for damages

Who becomes responsible for damages in cases where AI has caused harm? AI can cause harm and people and property. For instance, where a driverless car causes an accident, who should be liable? Unlike where a driver who drives negligently and causes an accident, he may be liable in Tort for damages or in criminal law for dangerous driving. But with AI, who should a victim hold responsible or institute an action against? It is difficult to establish liability with AI. As there are many parties involved in an AI system (data provider, designer, manufacturer, programmer, developer, user, and AI system itself), liability is difficult to establish when something goes wrong and there are many factors to be taken into consideration.[16]

Right to Life

Although rare, Robots have been known to cause death and deprive people of the right to life. The first person reported to have died from the blows of a Robot was Robert William.[17] Since that incidence, there have been other cases of deaths from machines. The deployment of drones to curb the activities of terrorists has also resulted in the deaths of civilians.[18] Innocent people losing their lives because of the inability of drones to distinguish between who is a terrorist and who is not, especially when these terrorists infiltrate their communities.


From the foregoing, although AI has greatly impacted human activity, care must be taken with its implementation, especially as it affects human rights. These machines are built by man and can only do what they are programmed to achieve. There is a need to achieve a balance between the deployment of artificial intelligence and human rights.

There should be a collaborative effort between stakeholders (that is government, business, scientists, non-governmental organisations, etc.) in the deployment of artificial intelligence. A periodic review of the impact of AI on human rights and the ways to improve the capacity of these machines to respect these rights.

Secondly, there should be an increase in people’s “AI literacy”. States should invest more in public awareness and education initiatives to develop the competencies of all citizens, and in particular of the younger generations, to engage positively with AI technologies and better understand their implications for our lives. Finally, national human rights structures should be equipped to deal with new types of discrimination stemming from the use of AI.[19]

There is an urgent need for transparency by companies and individuals who are developing and deploying AI on how it influences their business decision, steps that they have taken to minimise its impact on human rights, etc. In addition to this, there is also a great need to set boundaries for the use of AI. A blanket application of AI without these boundaries would translate into an unwillingness to checkmate its impact on human rights.


The impact of AI cannot be over-emphasised. However, the human rights concern of AI should not be overlooked. It is imperative for a balance to be created between the two. AI should not be implemented in a vacuum. An international human rights framework to set a threshold and minimum standards for the application of AI should be created.


*Partner at Springfield Law Practice

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McCarthy_(computer_scientist)

[2] Ben Hartwig the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Human Rights available on https://www.dataversity.net/the-impact-of-artificial-intelligence-on-human-rights/# accessed on 5/4/2022

[3] https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/humanrights/2020/07/16/beginning-of-artificial-intelligence-end-of-human-rights/ accessed on 7//4/2022

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_intelligence

[5] https://www.britannica.com/technology/artificial-intelligence

[6] Kevin Gardner, https://towardsdatascience.com/how-ai-is-helping-efficiency-improve-98d0171a23e2

[7] Sakshi Gupta, Artificial Intelligence vs. Human Intelligence: who will build the future?

[8] https://towardsdatascience.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-artificial-intelligence-182a5ef6588c

[9] Ibid

[10] Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended

[11] Michelle Bachelet UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/09/1099972

[12] Hartwig, no.2 above

[13] Guy Pearce, Beware of Privacy Violations in Artificial Intelligence Applications, https://www.isaca.org/resources/news-and-trends/isaca-now-blog/2021/beware-the-privacy-violations-in-artificial-intelligence-applications, accessed om 11/4/2022

[14] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/01/ban-dangerous-facial-recognition-technology-that-amplifies-racist-policing/

[15] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/digitaliberties/in-era-of-artificial-intelligence-safeguarding-human-rights/

[16] Gluyas L, Day S (2018) Artificial Intelligence – Who Is Liable When AI Fails To Perform? CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP. https://cms.law/en/GBR/Publication/Artificial-Intelligence-Who-is-liable-when-AI-fails-to-perform

[17] He was struck on the head by a Robot at Ford’s Flat Rock Plant in Michigan on January 25, 1975. https://www.wired.co.uk/article/robot-death-wanda-holbrook-lawsuit

[18] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/19/us/politics/afghanistan-drone-strike-video.html

[19] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/digitaliberties/in-era-of-artificial-intelligence-safeguarding-human-rights/

Frank may be reached through frankijege@yahoo.com

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