Tech giant Microsoft and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) have announced a new partnership to discuss how artificial intelligence (AI) can anticipate the needs of workers and include their voices in its development and implementation.
According to the AFL-CIO, the agreement’s goals include information sharing among labor leaders and workers on AI trends, incorporating worker perspectives and expertise in the development of AI, and helping shape public policy that supports the technology skills and needs of frontline workers.
Microsoft president Brad Smith said the agreement involves a collaborative effort with labor leaders to ensure AI benefits workers. AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler sees Microsoft’s neutrality framework and acknowledgment of workers’ expertise as a signal that the AI era can foster productive labor-management partnerships.
In 2022, Microsoft entered into a similar agreement with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which focused on upholding workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively at Activision Blizzard. The tech giant was then in the process of closing its acquisition of the video game producer.
Microsoft has invested $13 billion in OpenAI, the American nonprofit AI firm whose for-profit arm created ChatGPT, and holds a 49% stake, though it has no voting rights and claims to have no control over the company. Microsoft has also developed a generative AI platform, Azure, which taps into OpenAI’s GPT products to expand its functionality.
Related: Microsoft faces UK antitrust probe over OpenAI deal structure.
Workers across numerous industries have expressed apprehension about the potential impact of artificial intelligence on their jobs. In the entertainment sector, Hollywood actors went on strike over the summer to protest against an AI proposal by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The proposal advocated scanning background performers, compensating them for a single day, and granting companies full ownership of the scan, image, and likeness.
The emergence of generative AI has sparked concerns about its potential to significantly impact the job market. In May, IBM estimated that AI could replace around 7800 jobs at the company within five years. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and xAI, went further, predicting that AI could eliminate the necessity for the contemporary workforce altogether.
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