Humans must stay in control of AI: European trade union chief warns
The European trade union chief stresses the need not to subject any worker to the will of a machine.
No employee should be "subject to the will of a machine," European trade union chief Esther Lynch has warned, pressuring for a regulation to ensure humans remain in control as artificial intelligence technology advances at breakneck speed.
In the same way that European Union treaties safeguard worker health and safety, Lynch said in an interview ahead of a big gathering of union representatives in Berlin that restrictions are needed to ensure "the human-in-control principle" when it comes to AI.
Citing a "dystopian" scenario, Lynch said as quoted by AFP, "We need to be guaranteed that no worker is subject to the will of a machine."
Lynch, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) since last December, will head the four-day ETUC Congress that begins in the German capital on Tuesday.
Every four years, hundreds of union representatives from over 40 nations gather to address issues ranging from workers' rights to the future of work, environmental preservation, inequality, and cross-border union collaboration.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are among the speakers scheduled to address the Congress.
Since the extremely popular AI chatbot ChatGPT debuted late last year, there has been much debate about how technology may upend the world of work, potentially altering numerous occupations.
Artificial Intelligence and the world of work
The EU is presently considering a draft text that calls for restrictions on how artificial intelligence may be used in Europe, putting the group one step closer to passing AI legislation.
It is "critically important" that AI is introduced "in a way that works for working people rather than against them," Lynch said.
"It can't be the case that only the top one percent take all of the benefits of AI, and leave everybody else not benefiting from the productivity gains that will come from AI," she went on.
"We need to make sure that where parts of jobs or whole jobs or whole industries are displaced, that there are other quality jobs created," she concluded.
The division of wealth will be a major subject at the conference, as employees across Europe suffer from a cost-of-living squeeze caused by high inflation.
"Europe's top 1,200 companies' dividends increased by 14 percent" last year, she said, whereas wages only rose by four percent on average.
"So it's quite clear who's driving inflation. It's not working people," Lynch said.