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Advocacy Groups Urge AI Worker Protections in Letter to Sen. Schumer

A group of tech and workers' rights organizations have petitioned Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to focus on safeguards for employees amid the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) regulations. The letter, sent on Tuesday, shed light on the potential misuse of automated systems by employers to monitor, replace, or make hiring and firing decisions.

The advocacy groups pointed to allegations of major corporations, including Amazon, Google, and Walmart, using AI or other technological tools for employee surveillance. They emphasized the need for legislative measures to prevent such companies from profiting through the exploitation of tech-driven surveillance.

"New economic policies and labor rights are crucial to deter firms like Amazon from exploiting tech-enhanced worker surveillance for competitive advantage," the letter stated. The organizations further stressed that implementing strong workplace tech safeguards could pave the way for a more balanced economic and tech landscape, promoting fairness and sustainability.

TechEchelon sought comments from representatives of Amazon, Google, Walmart, UPS, and FedEx concerning the surveillance claims mentioned in the letter.

20 notable groups, such as the Athena Coalition, Public Citizen, Accountable Tech, and the Open Markets Institute, endorsed the letter.

In their call to action, the groups accentuated the need for Congress to ensure the well-being, earnings, and safety of those involved in AI development. Moreover, they advocated for stronger rights for workers to organize without the fear of surveillance and highlighted the need for transparency and job security in the U.S.'s "at-will employment" structure.

This plea to Schumer was timed with the Senate's second AI Insight Forum, a platform initiated by Schumer. This forum allows stakeholders to engage directly with senators, discussing the potential advantages and pitfalls of AI. Prominent attendees of the upcoming forum include Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz, Derrick Johnson, CEO of the NAACP, and Alexandra Reeve Givens, CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology.


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