Today, the Partnership on AI announced the future of the AI and Shared Prosperity Initiative, focused on measuring and disclosing the impact of the AI industry on the jobs market—specifically, how many good jobs are available, and for whom. As people around the world return to jobs and workplaces, and as policymakers take a closer look at the widening income inequality in the wake of COVID-19, the direction of AI risks displacing workers, making remaining jobs more precarious and injury-prone, and widening inequality. The Initiative seeks to address those risks and calls for the AI industry to adopt shared prosperity targets: verifiable commitments modeled after carbon neutrality targets to ensure that AI advancement is “good jobs positive.” Click here to learn more.
The Initiative is led by Katya Klinova, Head of AI, Labor and Economy at PAI; the Agenda’s lead editor is Stephanie Bell, Research Fellow at PAI. Both of them, as well as members of the AI and Shared Prosperity Initiative’s Steering Committee, including noted economists, AI experts, non-profit and business leaders, are available for comment on the Initiative, the current labor market and prospects for shared prosperity as the speed of AI innovation quickens.
“There’s a lot of talk of workers needing to constantly catch up with changing technology just to avoid falling behind, and little focus on how technologies should adjust to best help working people prosper. We launched the AI and Shared Prosperity Initiative last year to help close this gap, inspired by the work and ideas of the leaders who joined the Initiative’s Steering Committee. The Committee was very clear in its call to develop a way to measure the impact of AI products on the availability and quality of jobs in the broader economy. Today we’re sharing with the world both that call and a plan of how to execute on it, inviting everyone to join forces with us on a journey to institute accountability for the jobs improved or worsened, created or eliminated as a result of AI advancement.”
To facilitate a broader discussion of ideas central to the AI and Shared Prosperity Initiative, PAI has collaborated with the Boston Review on a special Forum issue titled Redesigning AI: Work, Democracy and Justice at the Age of Automation, led by Daron Acemoglu and with contributions from multiple Initiative’s Steering Committee members.
“The AI and Shared Prosperity Initiative and the Boston Review have brought together an amazing multidisciplinary group of thinkers to reflect on how to address the urgent risks the current direction of AI technologies are creating. Most importantly, these risks include displacing more and more workers from their jobs, exacerbating inequality and creating new hierarchies in society. We are not powerless against these trends. As we’ve seen with green energy technologies, concerted efforts, public pressure and shifting norms can lead to better technological options becoming available. The trajectory of AI is not preordained: it can be used to complement humans, make them more productive, expand access to good jobs and more generally empower all groups of people. The Agenda released today is a much needed step towards starting this conversation and redirecting AI in service of these goals.”
“The future of work must center the well-being of workers, or it will not be a future worth creating. Too many workplace AI products are developed without sufficient consideration of their impacts on workers. When negative impacts on workers like job automation are discussed, they are framed as inevitable side effects of progress, not active decisions by AI product developers and deployers. Society can and should choose a better future. To that end, Redesigning AI and Shared Prosperity: an Agenda calls for AI-developing and deploying companies to commit to creating (not destroying) good jobs. Businesses, workers, governments, international organizations, and civil society all have a responsibility and a role to play in ensuring AI creates wealth that benefits us all—the Agenda is a first step in making that vision a reality.”
“As we wrote in the Boston Review essay, technologies for monitoring and control are being turned against working people in low-wage jobs, resulting in an unnecessarily punitive and brutal workplace. Unless we come together to act, AI will only accelerate these extractive and crushing conditions—concentrating wealth at the very top. The Agenda is an urgent call to center these concerns in the development and deployment of AI.”
“One of the key takeaways for me from this work is how both public markets (eg, with generally higher price to earnings for software business vs service businesses) and government tax structures (eg, with preferential rates for capital gains vs wages or r&d credits for software) incentivize corporations to invest in automation vs build businesses that depend on labor and create good jobs. I hope policymakers take note.”
“Changing the direction of AI from human/machine competition to human/machine collaboration is a difficult challenge. AI systems would need to be designed to perceive and understand human intentions and communicate interactively to serve as aids to human workers, but the payoff would be worth it, giving rise to higher value, more scalable and adaptive AI systems, and better and more inclusive economic outcomes in the long run. AI’s current focus on competing with humans is alarming but not the only one possible: the AI and Shared Prosperity Initiative’s Agenda and the latest Boston Review issue suggest concrete steps the industry can take to modify its approach.”
“AI and data have become new pillars impacting Future of Work and workers. Therefore the Agenda is very relevant and crucial. It puts workers as major stakeholders in governance, design of Artificial Intelligence technologies and tools in the supply chain. This will lead to equality and equitable distribution of risks and profits. The Agenda also refers to mechanisms to enable the informal sector workers to access, design and participate in the governance of AI.”