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Welcome to the Official Schedule for RightsCon Toronto 2018. This year’s program, built by our global community, is our most ambitious one yet. Within the program, you will find 18 thematic tracks to help you navigate our 450+ sessions

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Last updated: Version 2.3 (Updated May 15, 2018).

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Thursday, May 17 • 14:30 - 15:45
Do Bots Have Rights? Do They Threaten Rights?

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This session aims to uncover the potential of social botnets to both advance and to harm rights, and asks whether this type of speech should be protected by human rights law, when, and to what degree. Social bots are being developed for good purposes—such as language learning, practicing social skills, providing guidance, information or entertainment—as well as purposes that pose serious risk to rights, such as trolling, spreading ‘fake news,’ or improperly influencing elections. Artificial intelligence applications are attempting to make social bots more ‘human’ by the day.

There are many questions about how bots should be treated under international human rights law, and therefore what principles should guide their development and regulation. Some that we would seek to explore include: are social bots, as code, themselves a form of protected expression? Are they a medium of expression, and if so, how different from advertisement or human rent-a-mobs? Will they eventually be sufficiently intelligent and autonomous to be protected speakers? Does it matter who creates, controls or deploys social bots, and how much does context determine whether there are rights issues?
Are there human rights downsides to weeding bots out of social media platforms? Will enforcing a rule that robots must be identified as robots be enough to solve the problem?

avatar for Camille Francois

Camille Francois

Affiliate, Harvard Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society
Camille Francois is an Affiliate, Harvard Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society and Cybersecurity Fellow, New America Foundation. Previously, she was a Principal Researcher at Jigsaw, a think tank and technology incubator within Google / Alphabet, where she led an interdisciplinary... Read More →
avatar for David Kaye

David Kaye

UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and clinical professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law. 
avatar for Becca Ricks

Becca Ricks

Senior Researcher, Mozilla Foundation
avatar for Ross Schulman

Ross Schulman

Senior Policy Technologist, New America's Open Technology Institute
Ross Schulman is a senior counsel and senior policy technologist at New America’s Open Technology Institute, where he focuses on internet measurement, emerging technologies, surveillance, and decentralization. Prior to joining OTI, Schulman worked for Google in Mountain View, California... Read More →

Thursday May 17, 2018 14:30 - 15:45 EDT