AI & Workers Rights with TechUK

AI & Workers Rights with TechUK


Good morning everybody welcome to day two of CogX
I actually thought it’s quite refreshing
yesterday please come on quite
refreshing yesterday that we could get
back to complaining about the weather
sort of complain about politics but I
guess we might be back to fact system of
the politics today
my name is Antony Walker I’m deputy CEO
of tech UK which is the UK technology
trade association based here in London
we’ve got a membership of about 900
companies from some of the largest kind
of global technology companies through
to a big cohort of UK kind of mid-sized
and scaling technology businesses and
over the last couple of years we’ve been
spending quite a lot of time actually
thinking and talking about issues around
kind of the ethics of around the next
generation of digital technologies and
an AI in particular and for last three
years we’ve done it we’ve held up can
annual AI summit where we’ve kind of
tried to bring together a really diverse
range of people to talk about the
implications of the next generation of
technologies that we are going to be
what we are implementing and using and
really connect trying to ask the hard
questions about what that really means
in terms of its kind of human impact its
societal impact and earlier in the year
we can have published a short report
talking about so the challenges and the
actions that we wanted to see this year
and our view was we’ve had lots of
discussion about trust and the need to
engendered trust and confidence in
technology we’ve had a couple of years
where people been frantically kind of
working on kind of ethical frameworks
and principles around around how
technology should be developed and
implemented but then this year we kind
of laid down the challenge which was
kind of so what what do we do with these
principles what do we do with these
frameworks how do we how do we
demonstrate that we can have real a real
impact in terms of the turning
principles and frameworks into action
and how do we make sure that we’ve got
all the right people engaged in the
bait and actually it was in response to
to that report there are quite a few
from prospects who you’d be hearing from
in the audience wrote a very kind of
thoughtful piece really raising the
issue about worker and and employee
representation in in the whole question
around digital ethics and and how we
make sure if we want to have sustainable
and responsible transition to further
automation and and the use of digital
technologies how do we make sure the
people who are either developing and the
new technology all those who are going
to be most impacted by it’s about its
implementation into the workplace how do
we make sure that their voices are
really heard and that they are fully
engaged in a debate and we thought that
was a really really good and interesting
at an important challenge and agreed
that actually it was an issue that we
haven’t really talked about enough in
these debates and hence we wanted to put
together the session today so that’s a
little bit of the history of the origins
of this session and I’m pleased to say
that we’ve got a fantastic panel of
people with real expertise in this area
who I think have a very interesting
conversation with so we’ve got Mike
Clancy and who’s general secretary of
prospects and prospect I think it’s
probably the trade union that has in
terms membership has got you know the
largest number of people who actually
kind of work in the tech sector and
develop technology we’ve got Julia Rose
Davis who’s director of partnerships at
partnership for AI who’s coming from the
US which is an organization that is
really trying to draw together some of
the companies and organizations that the
forefront of innovation thinking about
how we drive the transformation in a
responsible way we’ve got a Nebraska who
is senior policy advisor from tu AC
which is the organization that
represents labor organizations at the
OECD and who’s been very involved in the
OECD
principles around around digital ethics
and we have Kate Bell from the TEC who’s
head of Rights focusing on an
international social economics at ICI
and I think Kate you have to leave a
little bit earlier so you kind of closer
to the edge of the stage but I think and
everybody else will be here to kind of
take questions and engage with you at
the meet the speakers session a little
bit later on but so I’m going to take a
seat now so but I wanted to kick off
really with a question about your your
views really on why is it been the case
that we haven’t had enough discussion in
your view around the issue of employee
representation and worker representation
and I’m really kind of worried what as
organizations what do you think that
means that we’re missing in terms of the
debate and and and and also kind of your
general orientation around around in
automation and its role in the workplace
because I think for the many sort of
traditional people from a business
perspective there might be a sense of
you know labor organizations often are
quite opposed to innovation and so on so
it’s one it’s a kind of a bit of a
general orientation but my prospects are
members and I suppose I would some of
the more ambitious they’re people who
want to get on not just get even and
consequently the nature of the union
reflects the sort of people who tend to
tend to joining now our people are
involved in creating technological
opportunity they’re responsible for
implementing it but they’re also as
employees or as freelancers it’s the
largest growing area of our membership
freelancers they experience the
consequences of their technology
in terms of this particular issue I
think its central to the future of the
business both in terms of its ethical
location but also how it will transform
work we don’t come to this with a
dystopian view of technological change
we’re positive
we think that representative trade
unions and others do bring independent
voice it’s not just trade unions at
Pacific society should have a say in how
society transforms the world of work and
therefore the companies its supply chain
and so on that are responsible for
driving this change need to think
probably relatively soon about how
they’re going to position themselves in
relation to being open composing their
ethics here with a view to why the
society and how they’ll give the people
that are key to this business success a
voice in the organization now to some
extent this is an age-old challenge some
aspects of this debate are fundamental
to the relationship between the
employees and the employer or the
engaged and the engager if we’re talking
about the self-employed world and we
believe that people give of their best
when they’re given a say in the
organization’s macro decisions not just
expected to contribute at their own
micro tacit knowledge level and I think
more people now are because AI tech is
futuristic its forward-looking it
shouldn’t mask the fact that there are
still some of the fundamental power
relationships at work I’ve played and
we’ve been having more dialogue with
organizations in this field about how
they can fashion contemporary means to
acquire the view of their workforce and
in whatever form it comes and how that
can then be translated into a
conversation which actually influences
the larger decisions in the organization
I mean often
this area you know you’ve got to put in
the context of the the particular the
private sector collective bargaining
covers about 21 percent 25 percent of
the workforce about 13 percent in the
private sector so it’s not surprising
that this area is actually relatively
untouched by independent collective
voice what the future might bring I
think is what this conversation needs to
be about because I think there’ll be
more of a thirst people in this space
tend to be progressive they tend to have
a degree of individualism but they also
know that there are linkages in their
organization so how do they express
those linkages to those who employ them
and have a say in the future yeah okay
so – Mike represents a body of people
who are very much at the heart of
driving innovation in technology of
course the tC represents kind of workers
across the board does that mean that you
have a different perspective on some of
these issues where you’ve got unions
that are maybe more nervous and more
challenged by the impact of automation
the union movement as a whole is pretty
positive but you asked kind of why
workers voices have been absent from
this debate about kind of ethical AI and
I think it’s probably because we got a
bit stuck on the kind of robots question
basically the debate on kind of future
of work for the last few years has been
what are robots going to take all our
jobs and we’ve been very clearly saying
no we don’t think that’s what the past
tells us and we don’t think that’s what
the future looks like the debate should
be more about who benefits from new
technology and how do we use that
technology to drive productivity but I
think we’re now getting to the stage
where we can start asking kind of a
different set of questions and
redefining the questions we want to
answer a bit more clearly and in
thinking about this I was thinking
there’s kind of three questions kind of
at least in terms of kind of the ethical
use of a lie and first of course is the
question which I think gets focused on a
lot which is well what gets built and
you know what kind of what is designed
and is that kind of technology ethical
in and of itself
and as Mike was saying you know there’s
many workers unionized workers who want
to have more the say of that there’s any
different question about what are the
conditions in which it gets built you
know we’re hearing more and more about
the kind of ghost workers required to
try
machine systems what are the conditions
that these companies you know many of
our tech companies Amazon for example
are not known for their good working
conditions throughout their supply
chains and then of course there’s the
kind of third question is once we have
this technology how does it actually get
used in the workplace so who gets to say
in what gets introduced who gets let’s
say and you know ok maybe we’ve got a
new piece of technology which could
monitor workers every movement as they
move around the warehouse there’s still
a different question about do we
actually use that tech and I think we
need to get a bit kind of clearer about
which of those questions we’re asking
and the answers that we need which for
us will normally come back to workers
voices mic sir
Julius we have two very UK kind of the
perception would often be that the view
in California particularly will be very
very different about about some of these
issues
yeah at the same time we’ve seen lots of
kind of examples of tech workers and
some very well-known companies actually
starting to take some kind of collective
action how do you view these issues so
the partnership on AI is a
multi-stakeholder organization so we do
have representation from some of the
largest tech companies in the world and
certainly a number of them from the US
but we also recognized from the jump
that the questions that we’re asking are
not meant to be left to the domain of
the technical and so from the beginning
we’ve also had members from civil
society organizations civil liberties
organizations civil rights organizations
as well as academic researchers and so
it perhaps does not the the media’s
portrayal of a San Francisco based
organizations perspective but we at ta I
really believe that it’s it’s requisite
that we have all of these voices helping
us to shape these answers because you
know I think we are at a critical
inflection point I don’t think that the
future is necessarily an optimistic one
if we don’t take very seriously at the
moment that we’re in and because of how
artificial intelligence systems are
built what we do now means how they
you know it has a lot to do with how
they are going to behave and impact the
world later so so our design choices and
who has been forming those design
choices is I think really critical and
that’s why put worker voice from many
different perspectives you know this
idea of ghost workers workers who are
doing data labeling who are on a daily
basis exposed to traumatic images
because they are the ones actually
making calls about content moderation we
need to hear from them and make sure
that their mental health is cared for
retail workers similarly have a very
different set of concerns but critical
concerns nonetheless that are going to
have people be really excited by this
moment and then yes the tech workers
themselves you know ranging the gamut
from those who are heard from very often
and on the front lines and also those
who are not and I think that there’s a
real recognition that there’s there’s a
huge opportunity that we can get this
right if we are inclusive and
intentional about it thank you
your role you get to see the connect
respective labor organizations from
across the country to what extent is
there a kind of commonality than exclude
actually we’ve heard quite put a lot in
common here in terms of in terms of the
the broad orientation towards
technological innovation so so not
seeing it as a negative thing but
recognition that it raises a whole new
set of issues does that sound like your
experience or are you hearing the slight
different things where or are these
debates of different places in different
countries no no I think that it depends
first of all where is the country at in
terms of AI deployment already is this
country well already on top of it or is
it catching up to other countries
already that influences the perspective
of the trade union centers and the trade
unions there in that country then it
depends on the sector composition in a
country as well I would say because if
you have your we have members
a country’s we have a big manufacturing
sector so they are already used to
technological change changing the
workplaces they’ve seen layoffs that are
due not only to technological change but
also so they are more prepared for it
they don’t necessarily have optimistic
pragmatic about it and they have
instruments in place some of them that’s
the ideal case now but in the ideal case
there are instruments in place and there
is social dialogue in place to deal with
some of these transitions as you
mentioned and then there are countries
that are new to that or they are having
other another sector compositions so
they need to learn first and that’s
where it comes back to your question and
I can give you maybe a few examples
afterwards but it comes back to your
question as to what is the outlook of
trade unions globally on these issues
and the outlook is that we first of all
we need to learn and understand what why
is AI different and why does it matter
why does it deserve our attention more
than maybe other technological changes
and I mean I would always say that AI
does not operate in a vacuum either it
is part of a converged digital system
that we all need to understand as as a
whole and not only AI separately but
then again and that comes back to the
multi-stakeholder question trade unions
I feel like need to be involved more in
these frameworks a to bring in the
workers perspective which is frankly
very often lacking and the OECD
principles we were involved as to work
because we are an institutional partner
so they had almost let’s say not not not
a choice but they had to invite us sort
of to be part of that in other Prain
works and other principles trade unions
are not part of it but this is so
crucial if we look at where is the eye
being deployed it is being deployed in
any production service delivery process
so workers need to be part of it to tell
other multi-stakeholders what is
actually have
to my workplace what am i concerned by
or am i afraid to lose my job
do I need training and so on and so
forth so you need this type of exchange
but you also need to bring in in my
opinion trade union of workers
representatives together with the
designers already to form a sort of
co-creation space to say these are our
concerns please put please try to put
this into your objectives please try to
put this into your model somehow and
reflect it a little bit more in terms of
bias transparency in all of it
so so where do you work from your
perspective where what are the examples
of best practice I mean who who is at
the forefront of kind of kind of putting
these frameworks in place and it is that
as a result because they’ve had more of
a tradition of labor representation and
they’re just adapting to a new set of
issues or is it because they recognize
that something genuinely new and they
are responding in a new way
I think it depends you have all of it
actually you have examples of unions in
countries where social dialogue is
already strong at the sector level for
example like in Germany where they were
able to negotiate a collective
bargaining deal in the automotive sector
that is obviously affected by er systems
and then were able to adjust working
time for the workers and the wages to
these new changes to enable workers to
take time off for training take time off
to care for their families etc because
they’ve seen productivity going up
because II I systems were introduced but
here you have a strong sector dialogue
already in place and in this example and
there are a few other examples like that
where it’s the employers and the workers
the trade unions already talking to one
another then you have examples before of
companies that were willing to lead by
example at the company level social
dialogue space where they wanted to be
responsible from the get-go and they
engaged with the workers representatives
for example on data protection and the
right to disconnect in France we’ve seen
as an example so here it was the company
who came and said we will introduce or
we already introduced these types of
systems it will change the way your
members are being monitored for example
we will explain that to you let’s talk
about new parameters and then of course
the company is done and it’s a positive
example in the sense that the company is
then able to advertise for it
and have a good reputation on for the
outside world to see that we they engage
with the workers there is an agreement
everything is transparent so it’s
something new in that sense and then it
depends at the national level and turn
that depends frankly on the way trade
unions are already integrated or not
into the let’s say political system and
there it’s not a matter of whether it’s
about AI or something else where the
trade unions are being integrated it’s
more a matter of the system itself so
there we see great differences between
countries and clearly in our of aspects
if it should be all at the same level of
engagement but it’s just realistically
speaking it’s not and therefore we need
more in my opinion then more a
multi-stakeholder public-private
initiatives to make up for maybe lack of
willingness of governments to engage
with trade unions so Mike it’s gonna
bring it back to the UK perspectives so
where do you think we are from your
perspective in it in the UK are on on
this issue in terms of perceptions
around employee engagement the
practicalities of it and and what what
do you think practically kind of needs
to happen now in terms of the UK market
well yesterday was a good example I
think Theresa May convened there about a
range of I think tech giants to talk
about both the insertion of technology
into next phase in government and more
generally there was no voice of working
people and the AI council doesn’t
any form of even nominal independent
worker voice and I think this isn’t just
about voice through trade unions its
voice more generally trade unions have I
think a key role in this potentially if
working people want them to but more
generally there’s that there’s the hard
grounding in any change process of doing
things with people not to them and if
you put us on the sort of spectrum that
anna has a deep expertise in in terms of
engagement our labor market doesn’t have
anymore the institutions to convene
spaces in which dialogue can happen
where civic society can have that debate
where credible representatives of
workers can convene with with capital
who are obviously key to this
we’ve got no problem with successful
businesses at all many of our members
drive successful businesses so we got no
issue with markets but we do have an
issue when they are on harnessed they’re
unregulated and they’re not they don’t
have that important sort of control
mechanism so the next phase of change an
AI technical change here is more deeply
troubling potentially because of its
scale and scope it’s a another form of
revolution which can be managed by civic
society if we stand back and think in
this country we’ve spent 30 years
dismantling the institutions in which we
talk to each other consequently most of
the dialogue is driven by capital driven
by corporations now there’s a lot of
concern about corporations behavior in
civic society how we handle
transformation in the next decade or so
which will be driven largely by
technological transformation will will
show whether we’re serious about
corporate governance and us those
interesting debates about workers on
boards I’m personally more much more
interested in the broader constituency
of workers having a say not just in the
tasks that they do daily but in the
security of their employment the
direction of their organizations and how
they might want to come together and
engage to have that voice with with
their employer
so I think we are well we’re in the
bottom things are we are we’re in the
bottom decile of employee engagements
we’re in the bottom decile of
institutions that can navigate this
these complex circumstances and I think
this sort of audience this these sort of
people if we’re interested in it because
we think of ourselves as broadly
progressives we need to think about how
we require our politicians and policy
makers to change that power imbalance so
that there is this space to have that
conversation so it’s interesting when we
talk about a lot of just just how
technology’s changing the world and the
need to to think through four different
paradigms and and yet when it comes to a
issue of kind of labor and capital
it seems that that businesses often fall
back into a sort of a 19th century view
of these issues at the same time as they
talk constantly about the need to engage
with the user and you know do things
with people not to people and so on and
and and so there seems to be how do we
narrow that gap and how do we bridge
that gap so kind of I think we’re the
way that so much of automation is going
to show up in workflows we’re talking
about the integration of not the
replacement of and so the integration of
AI technology is in workspaces
necessarily means that you’re are you’re
shifting in some ways workers from
worker populations to user populations
and if you if perhaps this might need
the techno optimist side of my brain
it’s smaller than the other one
but you know I think that that you know
that there might be an opportunity to
think differently about user centered
design when it comes to thinking about
the integration of AI systems in
different types of of industry we
released a set of case studies recently
which looked at the integration of AI
systems in
steel manufacturing context and
pharmaceutical and infant act and in all
three of these cases what we learned was
irrespective of the industry we’re
talking about massive change management
and we’re talking about massive impacts
to workers sense of their their value
their competence and so I think that if
we think about maybe maybe we have
something to learn about a you know from
the user centered design perspective to
adapt to the worker centered design
especially when we’re talking about non
tech native companies which is actually
probably the largest population of
organizations that we need to be
concerned about when it comes to worker
populations okay I think we do need to
think about the incentives in which this
is happening and I think there’s a
really nice model of kind of worker
centered design as you say but I think
there are some kind of troubling
findings I’m just looking at this survey
from not everyone the other day which
says that nearly 60% of AI workers say
they’ve been asked to work on a product
that they feel uncomfortable with and
you think about why can they not raise
their voice and some of that is around
kind of collective voice in the
workplace but I think it is also
interesting to think about ownership
structures so a lot of them said that
short-term profitability was driving the
behavior of their company and might
raise the issue of kind of workers on
board so we know in companies like
Germany where you have workplace board
level representation you have a lot more
longer-term perspective than those
companies and you’re thinking about you
know what is the viability of this
product over the long term
obviously the viability of that product
is also going to be reflected by the
regulatory context so you know we do
also need the frameworks which say sure
you can design this you know piece of
technology which enables you to monitor
every movement of your worker you know
if you think about keystroke monitoring
technology for example but actually you
know the regulatory context is going to
be one in which that isn’t going to be a
long term profitability so I think the
context in which innovation is happening
is really going to drive the kind of
innovation and whether we start seeing
as you say the technology that could
make work easier could make it more
enjoyable could make it more satisfying
as well as making it work
I’m really struck that we’ve got four
panelists here nope none of whom are
saying robots are stealing our jobs
which i think is interesting one and
yeah when if we had a bunch of
journalists who writes about sex but
probably they would all be saying we’ve
got this big issue robot stealing
clothes so now I think there seems to be
a gap in terms of the the way in which
we’re talking to each other around these
issues and the way in which some of this
discussion has been mediated by the
media where we’re smooth maybe they’re
kind of the issues but Sabrina said so
obviously you know we’ll attack there I
know very well there are some very large
tech companies that have been actually
around for a very long time and keep
reinventing themselves there are lots of
who are the big the new companies that
have grown very very fast and scaled
very very fast but but then you know the
majority is a cohort of startups that
are trying to seeking to scale many of
whom would say well we have we know work
a representation from the get-go because
we’re all workers here you know we’re
you know we’re all people you know we
started off as a cohort of people who
you know were absolutely the coalface so
how do in that kind of context how does
this issue employee representation kind
of fit into the story of a rapidly
scaling company that starts with what
we’re all workers here but within two or
three years constantly actually be quite
a substantial employer lots of people on
different kind of contact contracts some
of whom will have a sort of share of
ownership in the business others well
how does it work in that contact because
that to me feels sort of new about you
know the way in which companies that the
nature of company is kind of changing
I’m not sure it is it is it is new to
some extent because of sometimes the
rapid you know the exponential changes
that you talked about but an area that
we’re involved is the creative
industries where there are major players
but then they have a whole hinterland of
medium-sized employers but also a big
freelance workforce and in there at
different stages of their revolution
these power dynamics play out I think
one of the most difficult things for
those who have had the entrepreneurial
zeal to create their own company work
with a few say a trusted network which
then grows is knowing the point at which
that one-to-one relationship no longer
suffice as for the size and the scale of
the organization they are and that
divergent interests a different point
can arise in that workspace dynamic
where you’ve got to secede cede some
authority I mean I sometimes in my more
regard my more comic moments you know
describe trade unions a bit like your
children you love them until they get an
opinion and then you find yourself and
to justify all sorts of things that
previously you’ve just able to say just
do it so the evil ation of a company is
a bit like a family relationship in that
respect you get to a point where by your
authority is just not enough because you
were you were the parents or you are the
reason original entrepreneur or also as
well and you know I don’t think
ownership is sufficiently as complex and
a notion where we represent a lot of
freelance members they’re engaged they
may work for many different engages but
they’ve got different power
relationships and different places and
one of the things that we do with the
more enlightened parts of the creative
industry is set norms it set rates is
set standards is set behaviors and
whenever they’re then in those spaces
everything from the personal dynamics of
how they’re treated and treated with
dignity to what they might be paid and
the breaks they maybe get are set by
those frameworks so we have to just as
workspaces and the process of engagement
is changing you have to completely
change your ideas of what collective
looks like but the idea that collective
doesn’t exist is a real fiction there
are collective dynamics in each
organization they’re either unilaterally
determined by an ownership group or in
some way that ownership group
shares some of that collective
decision-making and I think this is a
space in which that sort of questioning
is going to arise more now because if
this is leading-edge and it’s driving a
future that most of us want to embrace I
mean remember people who are affected by
technology are also consumers of it so
they can have multiple perspectives on
the on the pace of change but for me I
think the most important thing is that
one person’s successful implementation
of a tech project on any given day
particularly goes to scale can be
another person’s inability to pay their
mortgage because the job is gone or the
job has changed to the point where
they’re not needed anymore in a polar
sense that’s the debate we need to have
and we need to make sure there are
convening spaces in which we can have
that so that we do this with a long-term
civilized perspective and both the micro
and the macro considerations are our
work through if we carry on with our
atomized approach and so Judas point I
would be less optimistic I would think
the dystopian is more there’s more
potential and I think our economy has
more potentiality for a negative outcome
to technological insertion because we’ve
allowed the absence of conversations at
a macro level to drift so far you can’t
put total faith in capitalism capitalism
will find that to find some of the
solutions but capitalism also has to
learn to share and has to be a time
humanized and that’s where different
parts of civic society minutes but
convening groups trade unions or others
can make that happen
we have to build a bit of a movement for
that I would say so let’s dig down a
little bit then into some of the issues
of concern you know was Kate Kate you
referred to the doctor everyone research
where they survey surveyed people who
work in AI
and where there was his feedback with
quite a lot of people saying yes they
had encountered areas where where they
were uncomfortable with the ethics of
the products or – that they were being
developed and then this question of well
what should be happening in those
instances now when you look at a lot of
the principles around AI you know it’s
about being trying to be thoughtful in
in terms of the development of a product
but clearly that can’t just be a board
level priority you know it’s the people
on the ground who and it’s the culture
of the organization in terms of how you
identify and flank problems so so how
should businesses what would good look
like in terms of engagements around
those issues around the probity or the
correctness of the actual tools or the
way in which technology’s being
implemented well I think we should kind
of reflect on those figures I think it’s
pretty stunning if 60% of your workforce
are saying they’re not comfortable on
developing the products they’re working
on but again it’s about how we create
the spaces where you can speak up and
say I am not comfortable with this and I
think you know it does come back to
those what are the what’s the incentive
structure so there does need to world
level representation isn’t the only
place but how are those issues taken
seriously at board level and I think
when we think about the evolution of
those companies that you’re talking
about earlier ownership structures
changing and what are the inset
investor incentives is really important
but then it does come back to that issue
that Mike was just talking about around
collective voice it’s so much easier to
raise your voice and the whole kind of
principle of trade unionism is that he’s
easier to raise your voice with other
people than it is to do so alone you
have the kind of protection you’re not
going to be singled out as you know the
one person who wants to stop progress
who you know wants to move slow and fix
things or whatever it might be you have
to be able to do that collectively but
presumably there are numerous models for
that multiple ways way that could could
be or do you feel this I mean I think
you know the oldest technology for doing
that and event principally say there
should be an independent collective
voice in the workplace
you know I think independent and
collective are the absolute key there
are some other models in the UK we have
information and consultation models they
don’t have a huge amount of teeth at the
moment so they haven’t really taken off
and you know if people want to design
kind of a new technology of independent
collective voice grapes you know we’re
investing in tech ourselves to think
about how we organize workers how we
enable them to communicate when they’re
working in multiple different workplaces
but it’s difficult to think about
something that isn’t independent you
know it’s got to be independent and it’s
got to be collective and ultimately you
end up with something that looks a
little bit like a trade union even if it
doesn’t have the same kind of processes
branch meetings you know paper forms
long debates about rules that might have
characterized the trade union movement
of 20 years ago what’s your perspective
I mean do you think there are other
different kind of models or do you can
broadly agree that it comes back yeah I
think that there I mean it’s interesting
I’m reflecting on a bit of a geography
Oh graphical difference of being a US
from the US we have a I would say
slightly less robust trade set of trade
unions because there’s just been an
incredible destabilization of those
entities in the US over the last 40
years and so there are I would say fewer
options that are formalized for large
swaths of workers who are going to be
affected by this so I think that’s
something that we need to look at very
carefully but I do think in general
whether it’s formalized or not this idea
of independent and collective voice is
critical some other examples were we can
point to where this kind of collective
engagement has delivered better business
outcomes because it seems to me that a
big big challenge here in terms of
communicating the value in the benefit
is actually showing how this works for
the business
ultimate outcome which is better
products and services better
productivity and so on do you feel that
there are good and strong examples to
point to or is it still very fragmented
I mean it is still very fragmented first
off I also feel like again in terms of
best practice examples it will also have
to be aware in that comes back again to
other survey outcomes where there is an
european trade union survey this shows
that only 20% of workers in the last few
years have had been consulted on
technological change in their companies
and that does not only relate to AI but
to a broader digital change 20% is not
much and that’s all of Europe and Europe
already is a poster child let’s say not
necessarily fear but in Europe and
larger sense for social dialogue so
that’s that’s already telling us just
20% so to then find best practice
examples where it actually contributed
to productivity gains for the company is
difficult especially since the time
horizonal felix still is quite narrow so
we can’t tell right now if certain
agreements that have been made now about
right to disconnect mobile work the
reduced working time because there are
such agreements but can we can’t tell
yet if the company made more profit out
of it just yet so that’s hard to tell
but yeah therefore it’s I can’t give you
a precise specific answer but just in
terms of theory of course it makes sense
to have information and consultation
rights at least at the company level
installed for a company to have workers
to be motivated to not be afraid for
instance to be constantly monitored and
therefore do things too too quickly to
being too tired to perform the tasks as
well as they could do it in
where everything is more regulated and
they feel more at peace and know where
to go to also which comes back to
solutions such as have workers
representatives at company level have
companies allow for such structures to
come about and does not need to and we
can see that growing more and more also
in companies that are new that our
judicial economy companies that as K
alluded to operate and they let say gray
space in between regulatory arbitrage
and common sense and we can see work as
more and more tech workers also come
together and try to organize try to
inform themselves amongst each other
amongst different companies as to what
is that normal how I have to work right
now with AI systems in place can I do
something
who can I speak to and how can I breathe
so I wanted to come to this issue around
the use of AI and technology in the
workplace for monitoring and measuring
and generating data about about
workflows and processes and so on and I
think it’s an issue that’s increasingly
coming to the fore again in the media a
lot said ah you know in your view others
some kind of clear boundaries and norms
already that companies should be kind of
putting in place or actually does it
come back – well it’s all about the
context and therefore it is about you
know having the processes for engagement
because it kind of just matters in terms
of how exactly how technology is used
and for what purpose the transparency
around this isn’t you so did the idea
that all the trainings do is talk about
pay is probably something that are is
Jim generated by those people he talked
about before in terms of journalists and
who were also Union members so we
mustn’t be Muslim too much have
complaints about that but take one of
the areas that we operate in which are
high tech environments air traffic
control what an air traffic controller
does you’d be pleased to know is highly
regulated the working practices that we
engage in talk to national air traffic
services and other providers about is a
constant dialogue
it’s about technological insertion it’s
about ensuring that there’s not fatigue
and it’s ensuring about compliance but
that’s all played out in a well-ordered
representative process where voice talks
to operations and organization and there
are tensions but you resolve them if you
use technology whether it’s wearable or
in some way use it for surveillance and
that there isn’t that conversational
structure in which those power dynamics
are balanced off do not be surprised if
the output is outcome is as a sense of
exploitation or oirase or an actual
exploitation because it is capitols
responsibility to deliver operations
that work for the organization within
its curtilage what unions and
independent voice can do is ask them to
think for the long term you can ask them
to think about the consequences for
safety for ergonomics for sustainability
those things are part of this cat was
agenda but they need to be encouraged to
put them higher up as a priority when it
comes to balancing off against
shareholder return so we have the lots
of places this stuff happens naturally
you know we represent people in the
power sector this morning I was
listening to two articles on radio for
one was about non-disclosure agreements
and the secrecy around those sort of
mechanisms and this is a sector which is
developed something of a reputation for
those so that dynamics not being a happy
happy space and the other thing was
about the renewable energy sector the
greening of our energy economy and how
we do that technologies through all of
that technologies through through all of
us so how we talk about it and make sure
the fundamental you scratch below the
surface in any occupational circumstance
it’s not long before you reach muster
and servants as much as you might like
to color it differently it’s not far
away you move away from master and
servant by the social dialogue and the
balancing of power
independent voice brings I couldn’t
agree more
I think that there’s a real need
especially in contexts where there’s not
formalized representation putting that
aside for a second I think there has to
be conversation and anticipation of
impact and I think transparency goes a
long way especially because it surfaces
you know answers to questions like how
is this information being used will it
be used against me and and will it be
used to essentially inform my
replacement you know in some parts of
the workflows and I think that that’s a
really critical piece of this but
especially in the u.s. context again I
think this is a place where you know we
see the the use of these kinds of
technologies are primarily showing up
where we see low-wage workers and not
not many other parts of the the worker
population and I think that these are
already vulnerable and marginalized
populations especially in the u.s. u.s.
context and so we really have to look at
the picture very holistically and I
think this is where I see information
asymmetry is a really significant issue
both in terms of you know companies and
those creating technologies and their
workers but also between policymakers
and industry and and you know ostensibly
the public sector is meant to provide
for and and protect the public where
worker populations sit and when you have
you know such an information asymmetry
between those who are meant to fulfill
that obligation and those who are
creating the technology you really have
a recipe for very bad decision making
and so I think that those are some
issues that really needs more attention
and research okay so that’s been close
to kind of at the end of the sessions so
but I want to allow enough time for what
happens next and what do we need to do
you know technique a we sort of set up
the start of this year this nice video
where we turn
frameworks and our ideas into practical
action so that people can start to see
real benefits coming from the conceptual
thinking that I think is been done
across the board around around AI and so
on it seems to me that there is still
Priya there’s a gap on some suspicion
between the worlds of sort of labor and
capital
around the around these issues and yet
also seems to me there’s there’s lots
lots of common interest yeah
because ultimately if we can get this
right thank you probably does result in
better better companies that are more
productive producing better products and
services in an ideal world how do we how
can we make some practical progress so
that kind of that kind of ideal that
states and how do we bring everybody
with us both in terms of on the employee
side but also on investors who are
probably still a bit uncomfortable if I
may I don’t only think there is
suspicion if there is precisely to come
back to that if there is a lack of
information and consultation rights in
place only then suspicion arises because
if you inform your workers
representatives or your union partners
about what are you what are you about to
do then there is a less suspicion about
about what you’re about to do and then
there are good frameworks in place in
the ideal case about how to retrain our
workers to be able to take up other
tasks for example how to use always our
data being used and so on and so forth
so I think suspicion can be tackled and
managed to jointly so I don’t think it
mean there needs to be suspicion as such
already that’s that’s one but then I
also think that we need to create more
spaces for dialogue and information
exchange because there is as I said in
the beginning there is still a little
bit so we look but how what practically
can we do in the next you know before
the end of this year as it were in terms
of really trying to trying to make these
things happen
i depends on which level if you are if
you’re if you can bring sector bodies
for instance together
in to discuss the issues at hand in a
transparent
I don’t know Chatham House kind of way
to really discuss what are the issues at
hand what we are all using the same
systems and I don’t know in the
transport sector what are our issues
what are our issues from a workers
perspective do I feel for instance more
pushed towards driving my truck faster
because I know my the GPS system is
tracking me all the time and my employer
knows that this is happening so I feel
pressured I don’t sleep in the ovens on
and so forth and then the employer can
say okay I’m sorry
I actually don’t would not use against
you and then the working could say well
can we fix this up can we make an
agreement but for that first of all an
exchange needs to take place and in some
companies and some sectors it already
does and there are agreements like it
but in some sectors they need to be lead
industry bodies for driving this process
now in the UK it’s more up to Mike to
tell to tell us so that it’s possible
and I know from other countries that
such dialogue spaces are being put in
place
I’m not saying dialogue spaces are the
solution but at least a short term I
feel like there are information gaps
just yet there are a lot of
inconsistencies in terms of engagement
of by employers of worker
representatives and there needs to be
also a bit of naming and shaming and
this is what trade unions are doing
right now at the global level we are
looking at companies that are really the
worst case examples and who are flagging
the issues that are coming up there and
that also and then we can see other
companies that are more responsible
answering by precisely highlighting that
they are not like that and highlighting
that there are going on a trajectory
that is more human centered that is more
inclusive of the concerns of their
workforces so I think it’s it’s that so
what are you doing and this is apology
for what are you doing in these kind of
areas and what are you seeing in terms
of the companies that you’re working
with
are you optimistic yeah yes I I do think
that we are we are making some progress
so a few things that we’re doing because
of the what we learned through
conducting the case studies that I
mentioned earlier we’re actually
convening workshop and a project on
worker voice and worker well-being in
particular this will be a project that
is designed and conducted with a number
of members of ours from industry to to
unions and workers organizations and so
I’m hoping that that is a body of
research and and a set of best practices
that are implementable and practical
coming out probably on the order of six
to twelve months and then the other the
other way I’d answer that question is we
started a series of workshops held
recently in the US but we’ll be holding
one in Japan and then probably over here
in the early party a part of 2020 and
this is called positive futures from AI
and I think you know we to all too often
are hearing about the Terminator
dystopic future that we’re all going to
be living in but actually we have a
moment of agency that we need to claim
and so I think what we saw in the
workshops design that speaks to the
importance of dialogue and the
importance of bringing different
perspectives together is is we had one
of the most diverse rooms that I’ve ever
been in in the context of AI technology
development from those who are focused
on social issues of today poverty
climate change racism etc and those who
are developing AGI talking about how do
we bridge the world that we’re living in
today to the world that we may be living
in the future and what can we what what
world are we actually working towards
and so I think that we need to do some
work as a community with a very diverse
set of perspectives to decide what is
the future that we’re trying to
co-create together and I think that
workers and and employers are a part are
a huge part of determining that that
trajectory Mike organizations like mine
and Julia’s you know inevitably often
try to talk about positively
about the future technology and about
about you know the good things that we
can achieve how from your perspective
how does that kind of come across you do
you feel that we are overly positive
sometimes overly optimistic you feel
that we don’t pay enough attention to
some of the harder issues well I think
there’s a general challenge not just in
this fact that but more broadly that
messaging can be quite different to the
actual experience and if that gap gets
too much in any organizations prone to
that
that’s when cynicism really grows
because if the messaging is one thing
but the daily experience is something
else then the messaging is very very
ephemeral and it’s been seen for that I
actually think there should be a
positive posture towards technological
change because I think that’s actually
how most ambitious aspiring people feel
about it they don’t want to enter this
debate on the basis of feeling that
they’re gonna they should feel that
they’re gonna hold back we need to
embrace it I think well Judas said about
the convening space there you asked
about a six month or so Christian world
was not managed to actually sort certain
things out in three years so six months
might be a bit ambitious yeah but I
think in a six to twelve month period if
the government is convening a rather to
rather more unilateral sort of set of
our Arrangements around this then we
convene our own space we work with
people like you and others
internationally to convene a space where
there is a rigour blend of voices and
hopefully if that voice becomes of
interest to people in this room if
people in this room participate in that
convening space and it gains traction
it’ll be somewhere that people want to
go to to learn about their the answers
to these sort of challenges but but for
me where we start from is very
challenging this country we know our we
know our economic models broken we have
a Productivity problem we have a
Productivity issue which we try to
address by throwing time on it rather
than investments we have a gender pay
gap we have concerns about wage
distribution all of those things will be
amplified magnified exacerbated by a
haphazard
and unilateral approach to technological
insertion if today’s like I like today
things like if they’re important let’s
make sure that doesn’t happen together
ring well if that’s not a call to action
I’m not sure what it is and I think it’s
been a fascinating discussion I’ll
continue I think we are going to
continue if so if anybody would like to
spend some time talking to the speakers
please do come and come and join me come
join us
I just like to thank Mike Anna Julia and
of course Kate who had to scuttle away
too quickly like it across town to
another event I’d also like to thank all
of you for listening and you invited to
join me in thanking the panelists for a
really interesting session and do come
and join us if you’d like to keep the
conversation going so thank you very
much
you

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