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How to Make AI Work for Workers


Last year’s labor strike in Hollywood took AI out of the lab and into the mainstream for workers and creators in all sectors. As employers and employees grapple with new forms of AI, it seems as if there are more questions than answers.

Rebecca Finlay

CEO, Partnership on AI

What kind of threat, if any, does AI pose to job security? How can AI be deployed to boost productivity and increase job satisfaction? This topic is a primary focus of our research at Partnership on AI (PAI) and one of the most important choices of our time. We believe, if deployed in consultation with workers, the benefits of AI can be significant

Shaping AI for success

Like most disruptive technologies, AI may impact jobs but doesn’t have to result in job cuts or reduced pay. Labor and civil society, businesses adopting AI, and developers building the technology all have a role to play in creating the insights and guidance that will help us to navigate adoption of AI in the workplace.

For example, instead of blindsiding workers by imposing AI systems into their workplaces without their input, leaders should involve them in the discussion from the very beginning. Our AI and Job Quality Insights from Frontline Workers research found employees are more supportive of AI systems when implemented consultatively with respect for their judgment, independence, and creativity.

Diversifying perspectives to improve quality

Begin by understanding how AI will affect different stakeholders. This involves gathering feedback from a diverse group of developers, users, departments, customers, and other stakeholders potentially impacted by the system.

For example, using chatbots for customer service may seem efficient, but how well does it work for different customers, for example, those whose first language is not English or those with disabilities? Building cross-functional and inclusive teams improves the odds of a successful AI implementation.

Governing risk to increase effectiveness

The threat of job replacement is understandable. At last count, McKinsey projected that generative AI has the potential to automate 60-70% of tasks across most jobs by 2030. But while the promise of efficiency can be attractive, leadership would be wise to weigh the risk of over-indexing on AI.

Businesses must proceed with caution by establishing effective risk-management, data-governance, and documentation procedures from the very beginning. Establishing cross-functional leadership teams to manage all stages of the life of an AI system, from pre-deployment pilots to post-deployment monitoring, is crucial.

As generative AI tools get better at producing realistic content, it makes good business sense to establish clear AI policies and oversight now. Ensuring the appropriate use of generative AI in the workplace protects both the organization and its employees.

By prioritizing inclusivity and incorporating workers’ voices from the start, organizations stand a better chance at harnessing the potential of AI and promoting the well-being of workers, their customers, and the broader community.

As a nonprofit community of academic, civil society, and industry organizations, we at PAI believe the fair and responsible use of AI in the workplace is one of today’s most difficult and important questions. Ensuring that AI promotes equality and shared prosperity is a choice we must make together.

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