The TUC (Trade Union Congress) has introduced a new AI taskforce, highlighting the urgent need for fresh legislation to protect workers’ rights and ensure AI benefits everyone.
This AI taskforce brings together experts in various fields like law, technology, politics, HR, and the voluntary sector. Its primary goal is to address gaps in current UK employment laws. It plans to achieve this by creating new legal protections that ensure fair regulation of AI in the workplace, benefiting both employees and employers.
The AI taskforce aims to unveil an expert-crafted AI and Employment Bill in early 2024 and actively push for its integration into UK law.
AI Usage in UK Workplaces
Recruiting company Randstad UK has published several survey results on the attitudes of UK employees towards AI in the workplace. In a recent poll, they discovered that 52% believe that AI will boost their career growth and advancement rather than leading to job loss. This confidence is backed by a substantial 2,000% increase in job listings seeking AI skills, as observed by Randstad, just since March.
Furthermore, nearly half (47%) are excited about the possibilities AI brings to the workplace, which is notably higher than the one-third (39%) who are concerned about its impact on their job.
However, the integration of AI in workplaces does not come without its own challenges. A significant 60% of workers support the idea of the government prohibiting the use of AI tools in workplaces.
Furthermore, job security concerns are prevalent among employees, with 46% expressing worry about the possibility of their jobs disappearing due to increased AI use. Of this group, nearly half are either worried or very worried, while an additional 20% admit to feeling somewhat concerned.
Behind the TUC AI Taskforce
The TUC warns that the UK could fall behind internationally in terms of how it regulates AI.
While the EU and other countries have already developed specific AI workplace regulations, the UK government’s current stance leans towards a ‘light touch’ approach. Experts argue that ministers haven’t yet established the necessary safeguards to protect workers’ rights. The AI White Paper from March suggests a principles-based approach without legal force.
Previously, the TUC has advocated for clear legal protections, including:
- Requiring employers to consult trade unions when using “high-risk” and intrusive AI in the workplace.
- Granting all workers a legal right to have human reviews of AI-made decisions, allowing them to challenge unfair or biased choices.
- Suggesting amendments to the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and Equality Act to prevent discriminatory algorithms.
The AI taskforce is being launched because experts are concerned that the UK is “way behind the curve” in regulating AI. UK employment laws haven’t kept up with the rapid pace of technological advancement, leaving employers uncertain about how to use new technologies fairly.
Additionally, the taskforce points out that AI is already making significant decisions that impact workers’ lives, like managing teams, hiring, and firing. Additionally, AI is being used to analyze things like facial expressions, tone of voice, and accents to evaluate job candidates.
If left unchecked, this could lead to more discrimination, unfairness, and exploitation in workplaces across various industries, according to the task force’s warning.
The AI Summit London 2023
As a response to growing concerns about the development of AI, Britain will host a global summit on artificial intelligence this November at Bletchley Park, the historic site where British codebreakers worked during World War II. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will use this event to showcase Britain’s leadership in safeguarding the rapid advancements in AI technology.
The summit is scheduled for November 1st and 2nd, and it holds historical significance as Bletchley Park was where mathematician Alan Turing famously decoded the Nazi Germany Enigma code, as announced by the government.
Leaders from tech firms, government representatives, and scholars will come together to examine the challenges posed by AI and brainstorm solutions.
During the summit, key subjects of discussion will include preventing the misuse of AI for spreading misinformation during elections and its use in military contexts.