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Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace

No matter what industry you are in, your business is now and will increasingly be affected by artificial intelligence (AI).  Are you prepared?  Everyone on the leadership team should be paying attention to this rapidly growing addition to the playing field.  Human Resources is especially affected.  It is worthy to look at your workforce roles to assure your cyber security personnel are up to speed and that you have adequate positions dedicated to this critical component. 

 

The United States Government is taking steps to stay on top of AI.  How familiar are you with Executive Order 14110 of October 30, 2023, Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence? This is a lengthy, specific, and timebound EO with thirteen sections lined out as a perfect guide for organizations to follow.  The sections include:


  1. Purpose.

  2. Policy and Principles.

  3. Definitions.

  4. Ensuring the Safety and Security of AI Technology.

  5. Promoting Innovation and Competition.

  6. Supporting Workers.

  7. Advancing Equity and Civil Rights.

  8. Protecting Consumers, Patients, Passengers, and Students.

  9. Protecting Privacy.

  10. Advancing Federal Government Use of AI.

  11. Strengthening American Leadership Abroad.

  12. Implementation.

  13. General Provisions.


A few of these sections caught my eye, starting with section 4, Ensuring the Safety and Security of AI Technology.  The sub-sections for this include:


  • Developing Guidelines, Standards, and Best Practices for AI Safety and Security. 

  • Ensuring Safe and Reliable AI. 

  • Managing AI in Critical Infrastructure and in Cybersecurity.

  • Reducing Risks at the Intersection of AI and CBRN Threats.

  • Reducing the Risks Posed by Synthetic Content.

  • Soliciting Input on Dual-Use Foundation Models with Widely Available Model Weights.

  • Promoting Safe Release and Preventing the Malicious Use of Federal Data for AI Training.

  • Directing the Development of a National Security Memorandum.


These items seem like good starting places to review for readiness within your organization.  Do you currently have a position that has all of these elements included in their job description?  Is your information technology team meeting the requirements you have set up for them?  What steps can you take to help them be successful?  If you need assistance with job description development, contact me and I can help guide you. 


Another section of particular interest is 5, Promoting Innovation and Competition, with sub-sections:


  • Attracting AI Talent to the United States.

  • Promoting Innovation.

  • Promoting Competition.


It is recognized that the United States has an “insufficient number of ready, willing, able, and qualified United States workers”, thus leaving recruiters to look both within the country as well as abroad.  If you run into struggles finding qualified job applicants to fill your positions, consider extending your recruitment efforts geographically and diversity focused.  I have a popular training topic on Staffing Strategies that can provide insights to help in this area.  Another consideration to learn from this section is the importance of innovation and competition.  With these, does your Corporate Culture encourage, support, and reward idea sharing through product design and development? 


Section 6, Supporting Workers, notes a number of important considerations.  For one example, it places a priority “to help ensure that AI deployed in the workplace advances employees' well-being…[to] develop and publish principles and best practices for employers that could be used to mitigate AI's potential harms to employees' well-being and maximize its potential benefits.”  Employers can look forward to helpful principles and best practices that the Department of Labor is creating which will include specific steps for employers to take with regard to AI, and will cover, at a minimum:


(A) “job-displacement risks and career opportunities related to AI, including effects on job skills and evaluation of applicants and workers;


(B) labor standards and job quality, including issues related to the equity, protected-activity, compensation, health, and safety implications of AI in the workplace; and


(C) implications for workers of employers' AI-related collection and use of data about them, including transparency, engagement, management, and activity protected under worker-protection laws.”


Human Resources Departments are gatekeepers for highly private and confidential employee information.  The HR Recordkeeping procedures should be aligned with these guidelines.  This section further states, “in the workplace itself, AI should not be deployed in ways that undermine rights, worsen job quality, encourage undue worker surveillance, lessen market competition, introduce new health and safety risks, or cause harmful labor-force disruptions.  Artificial Intelligence systems deployed irresponsibly have reproduced and intensified existing inequities, caused new types of harmful discrimination, and exacerbated online and physical harms.” With employees fearful that they are going to lose their jobs due to progression such as AI, and worried about their own protection of their Personally Identifiable Information (PII), it would sure ease their minds to know that their employer, and the government, had their best interests in mind. 


As businesses, there is more to consider than solely employees.  There are customers, vendors, and business associates as well.  It is worthy to know that through this EO, “the Federal Government will enforce existing consumer protection laws and principles and enact appropriate safeguards against fraud, unintended bias, discrimination, infringements on privacy, and other harms from AI.”  We may not purposefully discriminate, infringe on privacy or apply harm but we all have unconscious and unintentional bias that can lead to these negative results.  Being aware is the first step to prevention.  Training and development is another element to incorporate.  Making sure that you can demonstrate a good faith effort to assure you have given all of your employees the tools to gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities to displace bias awareness, anti-discrimination, confidentiality, safety, and ethical conduct.  Contact me if you would like to schedule a human resource management consultation or team training on these or other relevant topics.


As a final note, AI is making it easier to extract, re-identify, link, infer, and act on sensitive information about people's identities, locations, habits, and desires and can increase the risk that personal data could be exploited and exposed. To combat this risk, it is prudent that all organizations make sure the collection, use, and retention of data is lawful, secure, and mitigates privacy and confidentiality risks using privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) where appropriate.


Have a Blessed Day,

Deborah Jenkins




 

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