Australian authorities have launched a project to make sure human rights are embedded within new technologies.

“New technology is changing our lives faster and more dramatically than at any time in history. Artificial intelligence, big data, automation and other new technologies bring enormous economic and social benefits,” according to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

“But the scope and pace of change also pose unprecedented challenges. They are already radically disrupting our social, governmental and economic systems.”

Technology “exists to serve humanity”, but can clearly fail to do that, the AHRC said.

It cited the example of an autonomous drone, which can be equally tasked with surveying approaching storms or invading privacy.

“How we harness the good and guard against the risks is a human rights challenge – just as much as it is an industrial, economic, political or environmental one,” it said.

The commission has launched a new project to come up with “innovative ways” to prioritise human rights in the design and regulation of new technologies.

The AHRC is planning a conference for this year that it says will bring together “leading thinkers, technology and human rights experts” to discuss the impacts of new technologies on human rights.

It is also working on an issues paper to be released in the leadup to the talks.