“A Seat at the Table: Have Workers Seized Enough from AI This Year?

This year marked a strategic shift in how workers are engaging in artificial intelligence (AI). Employers, employee advocacy groups, and organized labor alike have been pushing for a seat at the table, attempting to have their hands in the direction of AI development. With more and more firms using AI in their corporate operations, the importance of having a voice in how AI is crafted and deployed is now more important than ever since it could potentially affect workers on a massive scale. The drive to boost worker rights and influence over AI technologies has certainly borne fruit in 2020. Several companies have started paying attention to labor movements like the “Tech Workers Coalition”, which works to ensure fairness and safety for workers in the tech industry. Additionally, newly proposed regulations in the US have granted millions of workers the right to a say in their company’s AI decisions. However, these victories are still hard-fought and could be heavily diminished if not sustained and prevented from diminishing in the years to come. Several tech companies have already taken steps to dodge regulations and water down workers’ rights, leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation and lower wages. Worker trust in AI technology is also at an all-time low, with many noticing the potential to abuse algorithmic techniques to manipulate, oppress, and socially engineer individuals through AI. The truth is that workers secured a seat at the AI table, but now it’s up to them to use it. To build upon 2020’s progress, workers must actively push for ethical best practices and their increased involvement in AI governance. This could take the form of companies dedicating internal teams to ethical AI or grant workers the transparency needed to understand and monitor their company’s algorithm decisions. It would also be beneficial for companies to recognize workers’ collective right to form unions and fight for better wages and working conditions. As AI technologies spread throughout industry, it is essential for workers to safeguard their rights and secure a meaningful seat at the AI table. While 2020 represents a meaningful step in this effort, there is still a long way to go in ensuring that AI is used equitably and ethically.