NCRM videos

Can Human Rights Survive Inequality in the Digital Age?

Amos Toh


This keynote from Amos Toh at the 2021 Research Methods e-Festival provides an overview of Human Rights Watch research on the role of algorithmic decision making in reinforcing and amplifying the conditions of poverty and inequality. Our research spans two distinct but intersecting areas: 1) the automation of welfare administration and provision; and 2) the algorithmic management of the app-based “gig” economy. Drawing on case studies in the United Kingdom and the United States, this keynote will explore patterns of algorithmic decision making that evade traditional modes of public scrutiny and accountability while reinforcing lopsided power dynamics between the state and the beneficiary employer and worker. This keynote also explores how traditional modes of human rights factfinding should evolve to document the role of technology in violations of socio-economic rights, and how it interacts with systemic conditions (such as the degradation of the social safety net and the wealth gap) to enable these violations.