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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