May 29, 2024
Microsoft Teams With U.S. Labor For Worker-Centric AI Development
AI

Microsoft Teams With U.S. Labor For Worker-Centric AI Development

Microsoft and AFL-CIO unite in a partnership prioritizing workers’ rights and engaging labor leaders in AI development. This collaboration aims to enhance AI’s consideration of workers’ needs, integrating their input in development and implementation.

The agreement focuses on goals like sharing AI trend information among labor leaders and workers, incorporating worker perspectives into AI development, and influencing policies supporting frontline workers’ technological skills.

Microsoft’s President, Brad Smith, emphasized the collaborative nature of the agreement, highlighting the involvement of labor leaders to ensure that AI benefits workers. AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler views Microsoft’s acknowledgment of workers’ expertise and its neutrality framework as a positive signal for fostering productive labor-management partnerships during the AI era.

This initiative follows a similar agreement in 2022 between Microsoft and the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which centered on upholding workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain, particularly at Activision Blizzard.

Microsoft, having invested $13 billion in OpenAI, a nonprofit AI firm, holds a 49% stake in the company, which developed ChatGPT. Despite this significant investment, Microsoft claims no control or voting rights over OpenAI. The tech giant has also developed the Azure platform, a generative AI platform leveraging OpenAI’s GPT products to enhance its functionality.

Concerns about the impact of AI on various industries, particularly job displacement, have prompted initiatives like this partnership. In the entertainment sector, Hollywood actors staged a strike against an AI proposal by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), expressing worries about privacy and compensation related to AI usage.

The rise of generative AI has sparked broader concerns about its potential to significantly impact the job market, with estimates from companies like IBM suggesting that AI could replace thousands of jobs within a few years. Notable figures like Elon Musk have gone further, predicting that AI might eventually eliminate the need for the contemporary workforce.

Photo by Salvatore De Lellis

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