Sue Anne Teo

Sue Anne Teo

PhD Student

  • PhD programme

    Karen Blixens Plads 16, 2300 København S, 6A Bygning 6A (Afsnit 3), Building: 6A-4-28

    Phone: +4535336371

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    Sue Anne's research project is titled ‘Towards Human Rights 2.0? A A meta-theoretical analysis of the disruptions to human rights foundations by artificial intelligence.’ It will center around a structural rethink of the role of human rights and its protection mechanisms in light of developments in the field of artificial intelligence. Her supervisor is Associate Professor Hin-Yan Liu.

    Prior to commencing her PhD, Sue Anne was a Senior Programme Officer at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Lund, Sweden for 8 years. Here she managed both capacity development programmes as well as research programmes in Myanmar, China, Vietnam and the overall Regional Asia programme.

    Sue Anne had also worked for several years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as a Senior Refugee Status Determination officer and served with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the UN peacekeeping mission in Timor Leste.  

    Sue Anne Teo holds a First Class Honours Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from University of London, a Master of Laws (LLM) from University of Cambridge and a Master of Science in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

    Current research


    Title: Towards human rights 2.0? A meta-theoretical analysis of the disruptions to human rights foundations by artificial 

    The use of artificial intelligence (‘AI’) is ubiquitous in society today. It has contributed towards advancements in diverse fields such as healthcare, transportation, public administration and in helping humanity to solve pressing challenges such as climate change. As AI increasingly plays a larger role within our daily lives and in society, it is inevitable that human rights issues will arise in relation to its use. However, scholarship on AI and human rights typically focus on the impact of AI on discrete enumerated rights. These are first-order concerns that engage and pertain to the content of the existing human rights, such as non-discrimination, right to private life, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and other rights found within human rights instruments. 

    Yet, this thesis identifies that the harms posed by AI systems and its impact upon discrete rights constitute a necessary but insufficient way to account for how AI challenges human rights. AI affordances introduce novel forms of harms and the grasp of existing human rights vernacular of such harms remain slippery as new technologically mediated realities call into question how human rights are being violated, what counts as human rights violations and who are violating human rights, posing second-order challenges towards the fitness of the human rights framework. This thesis takes a meta-theoretical approach to examine the ways in which human rights foundations are being challenged from three aspects: namely at the level of the conceptual, contextual and normative foundations of the international human rights framework. 

    At the conceptual level, the individualist, state-oriented and discrete legal rights orientation of human rights are revealed to be conceptually brittle in in accounting for risks and harms from AI systems that go beyond these frameworks. Its contextual foundations are in turn undermined through implicit social and material conditions that informed the contours of discrete human rights afforded in the first place. In turn, the human rights normative  foundation of human dignity, while itself a flexible concept that has been expanded through case law and treaty interpretation, is nonetheless being challenged in novel ways by AI systems. The decentering of the human being and the disruptions to the conditions of possibilities for the exercise of human dignity are identified as being insufficiently theorized within the literature on human rights and AI. The thesis finds that the collective challenge  towards these foundations undermines human rights as an effective mechanism to address challenges by AI systems that harms individuals, communities and societies. 

    By excavating these systemic foundational challenges through a problem-finding approach, the research aims lay the key steps for a human rights framework that is fit(ter) for the age of AI. This rethinking requires the engagement of three key steps: a reframing of the problem space, a reorientation of the nature of the challenge by emerging technologies such as AI into one that takes seriously its material affordances and a re-theorization of the fundamental 
    concept of human dignity informed by the lens of human vulnerability.


    ID: 228715670