[From OSTP - May 1, 2023]
Today, on International Workers’ Day, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is announcing that it will be releasing a public request for information (RFI) to learn more about the automated tools used by employers to surveil, monitor, evaluate, and manage workers. The RFI seeks to advance our understanding of the design, deployment, prevalence, and impacts of these automated technologies.
Employers are increasingly investing in technologies that monitor and track workers, and making workplace decisions based on that information. According to an investigation by The New York Times last year, eight of the 10 largest private U.S. employers tracked individual workers to assess their productivity. For example:
While these technologies can benefit both workers and employers in some cases, they can also create serious risks to workers, which is why the Biden-Harris Administration’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights underscores the importance of technology developers building in protections from design to deployment. The constant tracking of performance can push workers to move too fast on the job, posing risks to their safety and mental health. Monitoring conversations can deter workers from exercising their rights to organize and collectively bargain with their employers. And, when paired with employer decisions about pay, discipline, and promotion, automated surveillance can lead to workers being treated differently or discriminated against.
Through this RFI, we hope to gather:
Responses to this RFI will be used to inform new policy responses, share relevant research, data, and findings with the public, and amplify best practices among employers, worker organizations, technology vendors, developers, and others in civil society.
Gathering valuable insights from the public through this RFI will help the Biden-Harris Administration create an economy that supports good-paying jobs, where workers are treated with respect and dignity, and have the opportunity to form and join unions. It will also help ensure that new workplace technologies promote fair and equitable workplaces, supporting the Administration’s commitment to advancing racial equity.
Anyone who is interested in providing their views can submit responses to the RFI by June 15, 2023. You can also email us directly at email@example.com with your thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you.
The Center for AI and Digital Policy (CAIDP) supports the Request for Information concerning a Workers and AI announced by the Office of Science and Technology Policy on May 1, 2023. We intend to submit comments. In advance of the deadline, we offer several recommendations to commentators.
CAIDP has several recommendations for commentators on AI and Workers:
1) Eliminate Barriers in Recruitment and Hiring
2) Protect Vulnerable Workers from Employment Discrimination
3) Protect Underserved Communities
4) Mandate scientific validity for algorithmic systems used for employment decisions
5) Preserve Access to the Legal System
Large employers have developed best practices to scrutinize the data and models used for hiring. An industry initiative has developed Algorithmic Bias Safeguards for the Workforce, a structured questionnaire that businesses can use proactively when procuring software to evaluate workers. It covers specific technical questions such as the training data used, model training process, biases identified, and mitigation steps employed.
a) Governments should work closely with stakeholders to prepare for the transformation of the world of work and of society. They should empower people to effectively use and interact with AI systems across the breadth of applications, including by equipping them with the necessary skills.
b) Governments should take steps, including through social dialogue, to ensure a fair transition for workers as AI is deployed, such as through training programmes along the working life, support for those affected by displacement, and access to new opportunities in the labour market.
c) Governments should also work closely with stakeholders to promote the responsible use of AI at work, to enhance the safety of workers and the quality of jobs, to foster entrepreneurship and productivity, and aim to ensure that the benefits from AI are broadly and fairly shared.
We would appreciate your support for these recommendations!
[This is an excerpt from the US country report, prepared by CAIDP]
The U.S. lacks a unified national policy on AI but President Biden, and his top advisors, has expressed support for AI aligned with democratic values. The United States has endorsed the OECD/G20 AI Principles. The White House has issued two Executive Orders on AI that reflect democratic values, a federal directive encourages agencies to adopt safeguards for AI. The most recent Executive Order also establishes a process for public participation in the development of federal regulations on AI though the rulemaking has yet to occur. The overall U.S. policy-making process remains opaque and the Federal Trade Commission has failed to act on several pending complaints concerning the deployment of AI techniques in the commercial sector. But the administration has launched new initiatives and encouraged the OSTP, NIST, and other agencies to gather public input. The recent release of the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights by the OSTP represents a significant step forward in the adoption of a National AI Policy and in the U.S.’s commitment to implement the OECD AI Principles. There is growing opposition to the use of facial recognition, and both Facebook and the IRS have cancelled facial recognition systems, following widespread protests. But concerns remain about the use of facial surveillance technology across the federal agencies by such U.S. companies as Clearview AI. The absence of a legal framework to implement AI safeguards and a federal agency to safeguard privacy also raises concerns about the ability of the U.S. to monitor AI practices.