AI and Job Quality: Insights from Frontline Workers

48 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2023

Date Written: September 28, 2022

Abstract

Artificial intelligence has the potential to fundamentally reshape humanity’s relationship with labor. However, the development and deployment of workplace AI often lacks input from an essential group of experts: the people who directly interact with these systems in their jobs. This neglect raises clear concerns about unforeseen or overlooked negative impacts on workers, as well as opportunities for AI-implementing and AI-creating businesses to benefit from workers' expertise.

This international, qualitative study of workers' on-the-job experiences with AI seeks to address this gap. Through journals and interviews, workers in India, sub-Saharan Africa, and the United States shared their stories about workplace AI. Their reflections revealed five shared themes: how executive and managerial business decisions shape AI’s impacts on workers; why workers appreciate some aspects of AI in their workplaces; the familiarity (and thus predictability) of AI's workplace harms; the ways current implementations of AI often serve to reduce workers’ ability to exercise human skills and talents (such as judgment, empathy, and creativity), and how empowering workers early as subject matter experts in AI development and implementation increases opportunities for AI products to benefit workers and their employers as well as avoid harms to job quality.

The paper concludes by suggesting opportunities for impact for each major stakeholders group in this space: AI-implementing companies; AI-creating companies; workers, unions, and worker organizers; policymakers; and investors.These groups have the potential to both increase the prosperity enabled by AI technologies and share it more broadly. Together, they can steer AI in a direction that benefits workers and society as a whole.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, AI, job quality, workers, future of work, labor, work, labor management

JEL Classification: O32, J81, J83, J88, F29, F66, L23, L86, L87, J59

Suggested Citation

Bell, Stephanie, AI and Job Quality: Insights from Frontline Workers (September 28, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4337611 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4337611

Stephanie Bell (Contact Author)

Partnership on AI ( email )

115 Sansome St #1200
San Francisco, CA 94104
United States

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