Ethical artificial intelligence - 10 essential ingredients

The A.Ideas series presents opinion and views around artificial intelligence emerging from discussions at the OECD Conference "AI: Intelligent Machines, Smart Policies". UNI Global Union looks at AI applications in the future world of work.
Ethical artificial intelligence - 10 essential ingredients

This article is part of the Forum Network series on Digitalisation

Artificial intelligence (AI) must put people and planet first. Discussions on the ethical use of AI are essential on a global scale to guarantee widespread implementation and a transparent solution. A global convention on ethical AI that encompasses all is the most viable guarantee for human survival.

UNI Global Union has identified 10 key principles for Ethical AI. These points of action must be realized by unions, shop stewards and global alliances, in collective agreements, global framework agreements and multinational alliances. This will ensure workers’ rights and influence in the age of digitalisation.

They are described briefly and not in their entirety below:

1. AI systems must be transparent

Workers should have the right to demand transparency in the decisions and outcomes of AI systems as well as their underlying algorithms. They must also be consulted on AI systems’ implementation, development and deployment.

2. AI systems must be equipped with an “ethical black box”

The ethical “black box” should not only contain relevant data to ensure system transparency and accountability, but also include clear data and information on the ethical considerations built into the system.

3. AI must serve people and planet

Codes of ethics for the development, application and use of AI are needed so that throughout their entire operational process, AI systems remain compatible and increase the principles of human dignity, integrity, freedom, privacy and cultural and gender diversity, as well as fundamental human rights.

4. Adopt a human-in-command approach

The development of AI must be responsible, safe and useful, where machines maintain the legal status of tools, and legal persons retain control over, and responsibility for, these machines at all times.

5. Ensure a genderless, unbiased AI

In the design and maintenance of AI and artificial systems (AS), it is vital that the system is controlled for negative or harmful human-bias, and that any bias–be it gender, race, sexual orientation, age–is identified and is not propagated by the system.

6. Share the benefits of AI systems

The economic prosperity created by AI should be distributed broadly and equally, to benefit all of humanity. Global as well as national policies aimed at bridging the economic, technological and social digital divide are therefore necessary.

7. Secure a just transition and ensure support for fundamental freedoms and rights

As AI systems develop and augmented realities are formed, workers and work tasks will be displaced. It is vital that policies are put in place that ensure a just transition to the digital reality, including specific governmental measures to help displaced workers find new employment.

8. Establish global governance mechanism

Establish multi-stakeholder Decent Work and Ethical AI governance bodies on global and regional levels. The bodies should include AI designers, manufacturers, owners, developers, researchers, employers, lawyers, CSOs and trade unions.

9. Ban the attribution of responsibility to robots

Robots should be designed and operated as far as is practicable to comply with existing laws, and fundamental rights and freedoms, including privacy.

10. Ban AI arms race

Lethal autonomous weapons, including cyber warfare, should be banned.

UNI Global Union calls for a global convention on ethical AI that will help address, and work to prevent, the unintended negative consequences of AI while accentuating its benefits to workers and society. We underline that humans and corporations are the responsible agents.


Read the full document: Top 10 principles for ethical artificial intelligence 

UNI's future of work website 

Listen to this podcast where Christina explains UNI Global Union's thoughts and strategies on the future world of work. From the role of data in workplaces, to why these rights are important.

OECD Conference on Artificial Intelligence - "AI: Intelligent Machines, Smart Policies"

Artificial intelligence and digital reality: do we need a CERN for AI? by Philipp Slusallek


Dr. Christina Colclough is Director of Platform & Agency Workers, Digitalisation and Trade at UNI Global Union. UNI represents more than 20 million workers in the private services sectors. In this capacity, she leads UNIs work on everything digital. From how AI, Big Data, new technologies, data privacy and protection and new business forms effect work and workers’ rights, to trade and investment agreements and trade union responses to it all. 

Prior to taken up this position in UNI’s head office, Colclough was Head of EU Affairs in UNI’s European office and General Secretary for the Nordic Financial Unions in Sweden. Before joining the trade union movement, she was a labour market researcher for 7 years at Copenhagen University, from where she also holds a PhD in sociology. Christina is born in the UK, and has since lived in six countries.

OECD Going Digital project

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