Using artificial intelligence to ensure fair work

The GPAI Future of Work Expert Group has been looking at how AI technology resources are being used to facilitate decent and fairer work. This project will continue into 2022.

How can AI ensure the respect of ethics in the world of work? This question is one that the GPAI Future of Work Expert Group has attempted to answer this year. Co-chaired by Yuko Harayama, Executive Director in charge of International Affairs at Riken, Wilhelm

Bauer, Executive director of Fraunhofer IAO, and Matthias Peissner, Head of research area

Human-Technology Interaction at Fraunhofer IAO, this team of experts started originated from the observation that there has been little research on the subject of AI in the workplace.

Working Group experts have readily recognised the fact that many studies had previously examined workplace ethics in the context of artificial intelligence. The existing sources of literature – whether from the OECD, European Parliament, Microsoft or GPAI core members – offers top level analyses. However, concrete guidelines for companies to help them implementing responsible use of AI at the work are still missing. The GPAI Working Group also found that the effects of AI have often been analysed solely through the prism of privacy, governance and transparency issues. Meanwhile, employee wellbeing and working conditions have received less attention to date.

Currently, the lack of binding obligations to comply with the AI ethical guidelines available also exposes employees to potential abuse and a series of other risks. Although the international community has agreed on the existence of broad principles, there are currently no specific standards detailing what constitutes fair working conditions in companies where people work collaboratively with machines. 

In view of these findings, the Working Group concluded that the first necessity is to focus on understanding how AI systems impact working conditions. The second aspect of their project is to ensure that AI is used to promote decent and more equitable work. For this part of its work, the Working Group drew on existing references – including the AI principles developed by the OECD – to determine and define the contours of what AI best practices actually mean in terms of working conditions. 

The ultimate aim objective of the project is to implement AI equity principles accompanied by the implementation processes required for these principles to be “applied, measured and assessed in any workplace”, in the words of the report produced by the GPAI experts, who are also committed to working with partners to integrate these principles into their technologies and business models.

The Working Group is currently conducting an inventory and study of all existing principles, policies and references around AI and business ethics. A GPAI-funded post-doctoral researcher recruited by Oxford University in September 2021 is also collaborating on this project, it continues into 2022. 

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