Microsoft Forms Alliance to Help Union Workers Stop Worrying and Learn to Love AI

Microsoft Forms Alliance to Help Union Workers Stop Worrying and Learn to Love AI

Microsoft announced an alliance with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to ensure that artificial intelligence serves the interests of workers, according to a blog post Monday. Labour leaders called the collaboration “historic” as Microsoft became the first big tech company to work alongside workers in deploying AI.

“I can’t sit here and say that AI will never displace a job. I don’t think that would be honest,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith at an event in Washington announcing the partnership according to Bloomberg Monday. “By working directly with labour leaders, we can help ensure that AI serves the country’s workers.”

Microsoft’s strategy on artificial intelligence is centred around empowering workers, not replacing them. The company’s main vehicles for artificial intelligence, powered by OpenAI’s technology, are called copilots, aimed at assisting workers instead of hijacking their jobs. Microsoft’s partnership with the AFL-CIO will focus on AI education for workers and students, bringing labor leaders and key AI developers together through summits, and proposing joint policies to Congress on how AI should used in the workplace.

A study conducted on behalf of the AFL-CIO found that 70% of Americans worry about AI taking their job. Microsoft hopes to work with labour leaders to quell those fears, but there’s more to this strategy. Creating AI products that assist you can be brought to market faster than products that replace you altogether. We’ve seen how artificial intelligence cannot replace journalists, or even fast food workers, at this point in time. However, the technology can be useful in assisting these workers, and Microsoft is solidifying this commitment in writing with labour leaders.

Microsoft made progress with another union on Monday, the Communication Workers of America. The company previously pledged to respect the Activision Blizzard union, but today Microsoft promised to empower workers with artificial intelligence, rather than harm them in an updated contract, according to Bloomberg.

The news comes just days after UK and US antitrust regulators announced investigations into Microsoft’s relationship with OpenAI. As Microsoft works to usher in the era of artificial intelligence safely, the company faces scrutiny for its control over the market.

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