Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development

White House Unveils AI Safety Framework for US Workers

Labor Department Publishes Set of Key Principles for Deploying AI in the Workplace
White House Unveils AI Safety Framework for US Workers
The U.S. Department of Labor says firms should retrain workers whose jobs are replaced by artificial intelligence. (Image: Shutterstock)

The White House on Thursday released a framework to protect U.S. workers from risks posed by artificial intelligence in the workplace, emphasizing health and safety rights as organizations adopt emerging technologies.

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The Department of Labor's framework calls for organizations deploying AI systems in the workplace to establish governance and human oversight and to provide workers with transparency about the AI systems in use.

The principles are voluntary - much like many of the recent AI frameworks and best practices the White House has released (see: 7 Tech Firms Pledge to White House to Make AI Safe, Secure). But the administration simultaneously announced that Microsoft and Indeed have committed to adopt the principles "as appropriate to their workplace."

"The risks of AI for workers are greater if it undermines workers' rights, embeds bias and discrimination in decision-making processes, or makes consequential workplace decisions without transparency, human oversight and review," the department said on a new web page dedicated to its AI principles.

The department also said that while AI has the potential to "positively augment work by replacing and automating repetitive tasks," there are also risks "that workers will be displaced entirely from their jobs by AI."

The principles direct organizations to limit the collection of workers' data used or created by AI systems to only that which supports "legitimate business aims," and they encourage employers to upskill workers whose jobs are replaced or who are transitioned due to AI technologies.

AI systems should assist, complement and enable workers, the principles state, while improving job quality.

President Joe Biden signed a 2023 executive order on AI directing the Labor Department to establish the framework of protections for U.S. workers. Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su said the principles reflect the administration's view that AI should "enhance the quality of work and life for all workers."

"Workers must be at the heart of our nation's approach to AI technology development and use," Su said.

The announcement comes as the European Commission's top technology official is in Washington for a series of bilateral talks with U.S. leaders on AI and cybersecurity, as well as the development of 5G and 6G cellular networks (see: EU and US Advance Bilateral Talks on AI, Cybersecurity). Roberto Viola, the commission's director general for communication, networks, content and technology, told reporters Wednesday that those conversations have largely focused on establishing common standards and furthering EU-U.S. cooperation around the use of AI to address global challenges.

About the Author

Chris Riotta

Chris Riotta

Managing Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Riotta is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. He earned his master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he served as 2021 class president. His reporting has appeared in NBC News, Nextgov/FCW, Newsweek Magazine, The Independent and more.

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