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Proposals aim to regulate artificial intelligence in the workplace

As artificial intelligence becomes more common in our daily lives, some members of Congress are pushing to regulate its use in the workplace.

A new proposal dubbed the No Robot Bosses Act aims to protect employees from being fired or having hiring decisions solely made by an automated system.

Supporters of the measure point to examples such as a company’s recruitment software automatically rejecting an application because of a gap in the person’s resume.

The bill would require employers to disclose when and how these automated systems are being used and it would require employers to use human oversight over the use of AI in the workplace.

Our Washington News Bureau spoke with Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), who sponsored the bill in the Senate.

“We got to make sure that workplace security and the dignity and value of workers are protected,” Casey said. “We want to make sure that we have a focus on taking steps to make sure that when artificial intelligence is used, as it will be and continues to be used throughout society, that we have some check on that when it comes to the workplace so someone is not fired by a robot.”

This comes as the AI industry is cautioning against too much government regulation.

We spoke with Josh Jackson, co-founder of The AI Association, about the proposal.

“I think there’s opportunity to obviously enhance his proposal because we don’t want too much regulation to hinder employers,” Jackson said. “This looks like it’s leaning more toward putting more constraints on the employer, which does not help the cause to increase innovation and help the employees do their job better.”

Jackson said the industry supports having a framework that outlines best practices without discouraging the growth of new technology.

“It’s good to have something in place that outlines sort of like a contract, right, of we’re agreeing to these terms and these rules and that helps make things clear,” Jackson said.

Another proposal introduced by Sen. Casey called the Exploitative Workplace Surveillance and Technologies Task Force Act would create a task force to oversee workplace surveillance through artificial intelligence.

That task force would be led by the Department of Labor and the Office of Science and Technology Policy and would have to submit reports to Congress.

The goal of the proposal is to shed light on how and when algorithms and automated systems are being used by employers to surveil employees and their impact.

Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, have warned against too much government overreach regarding artificial intelligence.

A spokesperson for Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he is focused on educating lawmakers about AI and has hosted House-wide briefings where members of both parties can question industry experts to discuss the best path forward.

“We want to work collaboratively together on being able to craft legislation that fosters the growth of AI, while protecting it from any fears that some might have,” McCarthy said during a press conference on July 17.

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