18 June 2024

Neurotechnology and children

In the next five to 10 years, neurotechnologies – ranging from brain implants to non-invasive devices like watches and headbands – will affect daily life for many children. The technologies stand to bring potential benefits in areas such as health, education, wellness and play.However, they also pose risks – known and unknown – especially given children’s evolving capacities and physical brain development. Unchecked, neurotechnology could be used to infer insights about children’s mental states, and predict and influence behaviours. Wearable devices are spilling over from the medical domain into the consumer market and are not subject to ethical or legal oversight, reducing protections for children.Robust guidance and the development and enforcement of adequate regulation in the present and near future are needed to protect and empower children.This working paper explains what neurotechnology is and, through the lens of opportunities and risks, highlights current applications of neurotechnology involving children, and considers future and emerging uses. It concludes with preliminary recommendations towards child-centred neurotechnology.Watch this space: This working paper, which is part of a partnership between UNICEF and the Government of Finland, will be followed by a set of more detailed policy recommendations to guide neurotechnology policymaking and development for children.Suggested citation: Pauwels, Eleonore, Neurotechnology and Children, UNICEF Innocenti – Global Office of Research and Foresight, Florence, June 2024.  
30 November 2023

AI for children

AI systems are fundamentally changing the world and affecting present and future generations of children. Children are already interacting with AI technologies in many different ways: they are embedded in toys, virtual assistants, video games, and adaptive learning software. Algorithms provide recommendations to children on what videos to watch…, Global Forum on AI for Children, UNICEF held this virtual event on November 30 – December 1, 2021 to discuss practical approaches to child-centred AI policies and systems. The event gathered children’s rights and technology experts, policymakers, practitioners and researchers, as well as children active in the AI space.  Read more about the event ., Policy guidance, UNICEF’s  policy guidance  describes the importance of promoting children’s development in AI strategies and practices and offers practical recommendations for governments and industry. The guidance aims to bring a balanced perspective to the policy table with usable principles for implementing AI that supports child rights. Version 2.0 is now…, Pilot testing, We worked with a diverse group of governments and businesses to pilot the policy guidance and illustrate a range of contexts in which AI systems and policies could be more child-centred. The aim for each pilot organization was to document how the policy guidance was used and describe the resulting journey in the form of a case study. The…, Consultation workshops, The guidance was developed through a broad consultation process comprised of 14 regional workshops with experts and children, a global survey, and a review of national AI strategies.  New York, United States June 2019 Helsinki, Finland November 2019 Cape Town, South Africa February 2020 São Paulo, Brazil March 2020 Bangkok, Thailand June 2020, Project highlights, Advisory group, We are grateful for the ongoing input of our expert advisory group members who are helping to shape the project and policy guidance. Maria Axente Responsible AI and AI for Good Lead, PwC UK Alexandre Barbosa Head of the Regional Center for Studies on the Development of the Information Society (Cetic.br/NIC.br) Seth Bergeson Fellow, Artificial…, Stay connected, Sign up to receive the project newsletter and version 2.0 of the policy guidance. This project is made possible by funding and technical support from the Ministry of Foreign of Affairs, Finland. We are grateful for their continued partnership and commitment to child rights. Logo of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Finland
30 November 2023

Pilot testing 'Policy Guidance on AI for Children'

This work is part of UNICEF's AI for children AI for Children project .  4 minute read We invited governments and companies to pilot test  UNICEF's Policy Guidance on AI for Children  and openly share how it was used, and what worked and what did not. Real experiences from the field can inform and improve future versions of the guidance as well as…, Case studies, SomeBuddy Cover Image CrimeDetector: SomeBuddy, The CrimeDetector system, developed by the Finnish start-up SomeBuddy, helps support children in Finland and Sweden aged 7–18 who have potentially experienced online harassment. When children report incidents, such as cyberbullying, the system automatically analyzes the case using natural language processing and provides tailored legal and…, Helsinki University Hospital Cover Image Milli chatbot: Helsinki University Hospital, The psychiatry department at Helsinki University Hospital has developed Milli, an AI-powered chatbot on Mentalhub.fi, which uses natural language processing to connect users in Finland with helpful mental health information and medical providers. Milli was created through the multi-year work of interdisciplinary experts and practitioners,…, Imìsí 3D cover image Imìsí 3D: AutismVR, AutismVR is a virtual reality game developed by the Nigerian-based start-up, Imìsí 3D, alongside a team of interdisciplinary experts, to help young users and adults simulate interactions with children affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The game, which utilizes AI techniques, is designed for non-autistic young users and adults, notably…, Hello Baby thumbnail image Hello Baby: Allegheny County Department of Human Services, The Allegheny County Department of Human Services developed Hello Baby, an AI-driven early-childhood maltreatment prevention initiative, with the aim to more efficiently address families’ complex needs, improve children’s outcomes, and maximize child and family well-being, safety and security. Whenever a child is born in Allegheny County, the goal…, H&M Group cover image Responsible AI Framework: H&M Group, The fashion retailer, H&M Group, is increasingly relying on AI capabilities to help improve its supply chains, benefit customers and reach its sustainability goals. In order to do so ethically, the company's Responsible AI team developed a framework that rests on nine key Responsible AI Principles. The Principles are practically applied…, UNICEF-Global-Insight-HRI-JP-JRC-Cover-2021 Honda Research Institute Japan & European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Haru is a prototype robot that aims to stimulate the cognitive development, creativity, problem-solving and collaborative skills of children aged 6 to 18. Researchers from the Honda Research Institute Japan and European Commission, Joint Research Centre worked with a global consortium of experts with knowledge in the fields of AI, robotics, ethics…, UNICEF-Global-Insight-Alan-Turing-Institute-Cover Understanding AI ethics and safety - A guide for the public sector: The Alan Turing Institute, The Alan Turing Institute is updating and expanding its public policy guide Understanding artificial intelligence ethics and safety , to give public sector employees a better practical understanding of how to design responsible AI for children. This capacity building effort aims to formulate ethical considerations to support the development of AI…, UNICEF-Global-Insight-AI-Sweden-Cover-2021 Policy for child-centric AI for the cities of Lund, Malmö and Helsingborg: AI Sweden, AI Sweden, Lund University, aiRikr Innovation and Mobile Heights worked with the Swedish municipalities of Helsingborg, Lund and Malmö, to evaluate UNICEF’s policy guidance against AI-related projects in these three cities. These projects included applying child-centred AI to an AI chatbot companion for preschoolers, translating child-centred AI…