Microsoft and AFL-CIO Forge Groundbreaking AI Partnership for Workforce Empowerment

Microsoft and AFL-CIO's new partnership aims to shape AI development with workers' perspectives and enhance their skills for an AI-driven future.

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Key Points

  1. Microsoft and AFL-CIO Partnership: A pioneering collaboration focusing on AI’s role in the workforce, integrating workers' insights into AI development.

  2. Empowering Workers in AI Era: Initiatives include AI education, direct feedback channels, and policy advocacy for skill development and workplace advancements.

Microsoft Corp. and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) have unveiled a novel partnership aimed at integrating workers' perspectives in the development and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI). This collaboration, announced on December 11, 2023, marks a significant step in bridging the gap between technology and labor. The partnership's core objectives encompass sharing AI technology trends with labor leaders, incorporating worker expertise in AI development, and shaping public policies to support frontline workers' technology skills and needs.

The agreement builds upon previous negotiations and principles established by Microsoft, including the neutrality agreement with the Communications Workers of America Union and the labor principles announced in June 2022. These foundations affirm a commitment to respecting employees' rights to unionize and fostering positive labor-management relationships in the face of rapid technological advancements.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler highlighted the critical role of workers in AI technology. The partnership with Microsoft aims to expand workers' involvement in creating worker-centered designs, workforce training, and trustworthy AI practices. Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft, emphasized the importance of incorporating labor leaders' advice in technology development and equipping people with essential skills for the AI era.

The partnership's initiatives include AI education programs, direct feedback mechanisms from labor leaders and workers, and joint efforts in policy and skills development. These efforts are geared toward ensuring that AI enhances, rather than replaces, workers' roles, addressing widespread concerns about AI's impact on employment. The collaboration will start with Microsoft-hosted labor summits and learning sessions, focusing on AI’s potential and challenges, and will include joint efforts to develop AI-related public policies and skills training programs.

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