AI for Children

Featured project | Exploring how to embed child rights in the governing policies of artificial intelligence

Brother and sister playing a game on their phone

Recent progress in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems, unprecedented amounts of data to train algorithms, and increased computing power are expected to profoundly impact life and work in the 21st century, raising both hopes and concerns for human development.

However, despite the growing interest in AI, little attention is paid to how it will affect children and their rights.

Most national AI strategies and major ethical guidelines make only cursory mention of children and their specific needs. For country policies, references to children are usually about preparing them as a future AI workforce. But as children increasingly use or are affected by AI systems in everyday situations — from playing with robotic toys that listen, observe and talk, to interacting with voice assistants — the lack of attention on the opportunities and risks that AI systems hold for children is growing.

To help fill this gap, the Office of Global Insight and Policy is leading a two-year project to explore approaches to protecting and upholding child rights in an evolving AI world. We are supported by and partnering with the Government of Finland, and collaborating with the IEEE Standards Association, the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet & Society, the World Economic Forum, the 5Rights Foundation and other organizations that form part of Generation AI.

As part of the AI and Children policy project, UNICEF is hosting a series of workshops around the world to gain regional perspectives on AI systems and children. These conversations will help UNICEF develop a policy guidance on how to promote children’s development in AI strategies and practices. The guidance aims to bring a balanced perspective to the policy table with clear, usable principles for implementing AI that supports child rights.

The draft policy guidance will be launched at a Global Forum on AI for Children, the first of its kind, on 16–17 June, 2020, in Helsinki, Finland.

Link to video on it's hosted site.
UNICEF Office of Global Insight and Policy

Regional workshops

New York, United States
June 2019

Helsinki, Finland
November 2019

Cape Town, South Africa
February 2020

São Paulo, Brazil
Coming soon


We are grateful for the ongoing input of our expert advisory group members who are helping to shape the project and policy guidance.

Kay Firth-Butterfield
Head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, World Economic Forum

Sandra Cortesi
Director of Youth and Media, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

Virginia Dignum
Professor of Responsible Artificial Intelligence, Umeå University

Urs Gasser
Executive Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

John Havens
Executive Director, IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous & Intelligent Systems

Eddan Katz
Project Lead, Artificial Intelligence and Machine-Learning, World Economic Forum

Baroness Beeban Kidron
Founder, 5Rights Foundation; House of Lords

Jussi Kivipuro
Development Director, UNICEF Finland

Alpesh Shah
Senior Director, IEEE Standards Association


This project is made possible by generous funding from the Ministry of Foreign of Affairs, Finland. We are grateful for their continued partnership and commitment to child rights. 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Finland logo


Steven Vosloo is project lead and focal point. Please direct any inquiries to him.