Sign outside Department of Labor building, Washington, DC
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The Labor Department just released eight “principles” that urge employers to actively manage the implementation of artificial intelligence within workplace environments. Chief among them: AI systems should not violate or undermine workers’ right to organize.

“These principles will create a roadmap for developers and employers on how to harness AI technologies for their businesses while ensuring workers benefit from new opportunities created by AI and are protected from its potential harms’” said Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su.

 Besides targeting union busting, the guidance addresses seven other areas:

  •  Centering worker empowerment: Workers and their representatives, especially those from marginalized communities, should be adequately informed and granted meaningful  input in the design, development, testing, training, use, and oversight of AI systems for use in the workplace.
  • Ethically developing AI: AI systems should be designed, developed and implemented  in a way that safeguards the well-being and rights of workers.
  • Establishing AI governance and human oversight: Organizations should have transparent governance systems, robust procedures, human oversight mechanisms, and rigorous evaluation processes for AI systems employed in the workplace.
  • Ensuring transparency in AI Use: Employers should be transparent with both current employees and job seekers regarding the utilization of AI systems in the workplace.
  • Using AI to enable workers: AI systems should assist, complement, and enable workers, and improve job quality.
  • Supporting workers impacted by AI: Employers should support or upskill workers during job transitions related to AI.
  • Ensuring responsible use of worker data: Workers’ data collected, used, or created by AI systems should be limited in scope and location, used only to support legitimate business aims, and protected and handled responsibly.

The directives come amid growing concerns about the possible negative impacts AI may usher into senior care and other other workplace environments. 

 “Workers must be at the heart of our nation’s approach to AI technology development and use,”  Su added.

Recognizing AI’s potential to augment work processes by automating repetitive tasks and facilitating routine decisions, the principles aim to alleviate the burden on workers, enabling them to focus on higher-value responsibilities, the department noted. 

However, alongside its benefits, the proliferation of AI-augmented work poses inherent risks. These include the potential loss of worker autonomy, the erosion of job quality, and the exacerbation of biases in decision-making processes. Concerns also loom regarding the possibility of widespread job displacement due to AI integration, the department added.