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Fair work for AI

A lot of work and studies have been done on fair working conditions around AI. The main issue with existing initiatives to shape AI applications is that they are high-level, which can make them unenforceable. As a result, organizations are largely left to interpret and enact such ethics themselves. This has left workers exposed to potential risks and abuse of AI technologies. The pathway from high-level principles to enforceable regulation around the impact of AI on working conditions has not been clearly defined. The main way that AI ethics have been operationalized is in the context of privacy concerns, transparency, and governance. However, questions around job quality, well-being and working conditions more generally have not received sufficient attention. The focus on ethics can even be used as a way of getting around regulation, especially when technology companies opt for voluntary codes of practice that they have shaped themselves. Currently, all existing AI ethics guidelines are non-binding.

There is a need to understand how AI systems are already shaping working conditions and ensure that AI is used to foster decent and fairer work. Therefore, certain criteria need to be met, including the regular engagement of multiple external and internal stakeholders; mechanisms for independent oversight; transparency around decision-making procedures; and justifiable standards based on evidence and enforceable legal frameworks and regulations.

Building on existing principles (such as the OECD AI principles) as benchmarks, the project’s immediate aim is to determine AI best practices with regard to working conditions. This will entail a set of AI fair work principles and operationalizable processes through which they can be applied, measured, and evaluated in any workplace. Providing concrete benchmarks of fair standards and best practices in the digital age will assist both public and private innovators from international regulatory frameworks to entrepreneurs.

Short-term objectives

The short-term outputs of the project are:

  • A review and synthesis of existing just/ethical/fair AI principles, policies, and benchmarks to inform the first internal drafts of the AI Fair Work principles and of the deployment strategy.
  • A working document of principles and processes that balance meaningful standards of fair work with implementability assembled from the feedback of an international expert advisory group on the previous AI Fair Work principles and deployment strategy. It will be shared worldwide to thought leaders representing industry, labour movement and government to produce a first public draft of both principles and deployment strategy.

Long-term deliverable

The main longer-term outcomes of the project are:

  • A report on AI Fair Work principles and processes released in four languages for maximum global impact. A virtual launch event that connects the release to key actors in industry, the labour movement, and government.
  • Case studies of the impact of the adoption of the principles by five organizations in 2022.