'Risk of becoming wild west' | TUC launches taskforce to safeguard workers from AI

TUC launches taskforce to safeguard workers from AI

In the professional world, nothing is contributing to both anxiety and excitement about the future of work more than the prominence of artificial intelligence in the workplace.

As AI becomes more integrated into job roles, many experts have raised concerns about how this powerful technology might negatively impact workers through making some jobs redundant and increasing job displacement and unemployment.

Despite this, some experts also point to the productivity gains workers and companies are likely to experience as a positive result of the integration of this technology.

To gauge the risks involved with AI and how it’s going to impact workers, the TUC has launched a taskforce, as it calls for “urgent” new legislation to safeguard workers from the potential risks of AI.

The taskforce warns that the UK workforce could see problems, including increased job insecurity, infringements on privacy, discrimination, and increased intensity at work, if nothing is done to safeguard employees.

The TUC warns that AI can now make life-changing decisions for workers, such as hiring staff based on their facial expressions and tone of voice, which some have said can lead to increased discrimination.

As a result, the taskforce will come up with a legislation draft, which it hopes will be adopted by the government, or the UK risks becoming an “international outlier” as Britain trails behind the EU and other countries who have already drafted their own legislation to better regulate AI.

Risk turning into a “wild west”

The AI and Employment Bill will be completed in 2024, and will include expertise from employment lawyers, academics, politicians and technologists, who will all join the TUC’s taskforce.

The taskforce will be overseen by the TUC and assisted by an advisory committee, including TechUK, CIPD, the University of Oxford, the British Computer Society, CWU, GMB, USDAW, Community, Prospect and the Ada Lovelace Institute.

While, from the TUC, the organisation’s general secretary Kate Bell and general executive of technology and democracy at the University of Cambridge, Gina Neff will jointly chair the committee.

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“AI is already making life-changing decisions about the way millions work – including how people are hired, performance-managed and fired,” explained Kate Bell.

“But UK employment law is way behind the curve – leaving many workers vulnerable to exploitation and discrimination.

“We urgently need new employment legislation, so workers and employers know where they stand. Without proper regulation of AI, our labour market risks turning into a wild west. We all have a shared interest in getting this right.”

News of the taskforce comes as Rishi Sunak gears up to host a global AI summit in November this year, a first of its kind.

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