Microsoft has announced that labor leaders will be involved in discussions about the development and implementation of artificial intelligence technology. The software company, which is a major investor in OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, has confirmed that it has reached […]
Microsoft has announced that labor leaders will be involved in discussions about the development and implementation of artificial intelligence technology. The software company, which is a major investor in OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, has confirmed that it has reached an agreement with AFL-CIO to create an “open dialogue” on the impact of artificial intelligence on the future of work.
This partnership is the first of its kind between a labor union and a technology company, with a focus on artificial intelligence, Microsoft and AFL-CIO highlighted in a joint statement.
The alliance will have three main goals: sharing information on artificial intelligence trends with labor leaders, incorporating workers’ perspectives in the development of artificial intelligence technology, and shaping public policies that support the skills and needs of frontline workers. Microsoft will also organize trainings for workers and students on the latest advancements in artificial intelligence, with the first training scheduled for 2024.
“By collaborating with labor leaders, we can help ensure that artificial intelligence serves workers in the country,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s President, on Monday.
Liz Shuler, President of AFL-CIO, also emphasized that the partnership “reflects the recognition of the crucial role workers play in the development, implementation, and regulation of artificial intelligence and related technologies.”
This announcement comes as business leaders and officials consider the potential broad impacts expected from artificial intelligence on the labor market in the coming years. While prominent voices in the technology industry have long talked about how artificial intelligence can help us work less and perform jobs more efficiently, labor leaders and critics of the technology industry simultaneously express concerns about the possibility of artificial intelligence tools replacing workers. Workers also share this concern: a survey conducted by AFL-CIO in August showed that 70% of respondents expressed worries about artificial intelligence replacing workers.
It is important to note that the partnership, announced on Monday, also includes an agreement on “neutrality” through which Microsoft organizes future activities with AFL-CIO unions and their associations. This expands on the neutrality agreement that Microsoft reached with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union last year, while workers at Activision Blizzard organized with CWA during Microsoft’s acquisition of the gaming giant.
Although the technology sector has generally been criticized for its hostility towards organized labor, Microsoft and AFL-CIO emphasized that the new agreement “affirms a shared commitment to respecting employees’ rights to join unions” and to “negotiating collective bargaining agreements that support workers in an era of rapid technological change.”