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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

UK unions publish AI bill to protect workers from 'risks and harms' of the tech

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the UK has taken a proactive step in protecting workers' rights in the era of Artificial Intelligence.

In a bid to safeguard workers from the potential risks and harms of AI-powered decision-making in the workplace, the TUC has introduced a bill aimed at urging the government to adopt a more robust approach to AI regulation.

The proposed bill not only calls for greater government intervention but also seeks to establish trade union rights concerning the use of AI systems by employers. According to the TUC, urgent action is necessary as AI continues to transform the world of work, yet there are no specific laws in place to address AI-related issues in the UK.

Mary Towers, a TUC policy officer, emphasized the necessity of regulation, stating, “Urgent action is needed to ensure that people are protected from the risks and harms of AI-powered decision-making in the workplace and that everyone benefits from the opportunities associated with AI at work. Employers and businesses also need the certainty offered by regulation.”

This move comes as a response to the UK government's previous approach, which favored a light-touch regulation strategy, relying on existing laws and the strengthening of regulatory bodies.

In contrast, the TUC's proposed bill aims to address the risks associated with AI deployment in employment, ensuring the development of safe, secure, and fair AI systems.

While the UK government has published a white paper outlining its approach to AI regulation based on harms rather than risks, the TUC believes that more concrete steps need to be taken.

The European Union has already taken significant steps in this direction by introducing the AI Act, the world's first legislation specifically designed to address the risks associated with artificial intelligence.

Despite hosting an AI Safety Summit in November last year, which saw the signing of the Bletchley Declaration by world leaders, the TUC has criticized the event, labeling it "a missed opportunity." According to the TUC, the summit failed to adequately represent the communities and workers most affected by AI.

In September, the TUC launched an AI task force to advocate for urgent new legislation to safeguard workers' rights in the face of AI advancements. The proposed AI Bill is one of the initiatives put forward by this task force.


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