President Biden issued an executive order Oct. 30 aimed at establishing standards for artificial intelligence, including providing improved safety and protections. It’s one of several AI-related regulations that SIA has seen globally, and its impact could be felt in several aspects of contingent workforce management.
Biden’s order covers AI in the workplace as well as a wide range of other issues — from ensuring AI is trustworthy to requiring AI systems to share their safety test results with the government.
In terms of the workplace, Biden’s order acknowledged AI can offer improved productivity but noted concerns over increased workplace surveillance, bias and job displacement. The order calls for developing best practices when it comes to AI and the workplace, and it calls for a report on AI’s potential impact on labor markets.
In a fact sheet, the White House states the executive order also directs federal agencies to accelerate the “rapid hiring of AI professionals as part of a government-wide AI talent surge” led by the Office of Personnel Management, US Digital Service, US Digital Corps and Presidential Innovation Fellowship. Agencies will provide AI training for employees at all levels in relevant fields.
Biden’s announcement is one of several AI-related regulatory changes that governments around the world are implementing or considering, says John Nurthen, SIA’s executive director of global research.
“The announcement highlights the risks that organizations face in using AI technology products,” Nurthen says. “While it may not be practical to have an algorithm auditor assess every talent acquisition technology product, at the very least, workforce program managers should be pushing their technology vendors to provide reassurances that their products operate without any AI biases and checking their terms and conditions to understand what exposure they may potentially face in using these tools.”
Nurthen also says the focus on the impact of AI on the labor market is welcome, though multiple studies from numerous sources have already analyzed this topic in depth.
“For enterprise buyers, having staffing partners that are able to provide the latest and greatest technologies to their recruiters to attract and engage candidates is extremely important,” says Dawn McCartney, VP of SIA’s Contingent Workforce Strategies Council. “However, even more, important to them is the staffing partner’s ability to assure the buyer that they have done their due diligence and can confidently state the technologies they utilize have no AI biases.”
The order currently appears to be mainly a positive for the ecosystem, Joseph Cole, VP of marketing and research at Glider AI, a provider of assessments and other services for the hiring process, told SIA.
“The pace at which AI evolves and growing use cases is incredibly profound,” Cole said in a statement to SIA. “Take social media, for example; it has changed all aspects of our lives, and we’re finally at a place where we have the data to understand the long-term impact. With social media, more transparency and accountability at the onset may have mitigated some of the negative consequences we see today.”
The executive order brings a proactive approach to AI, hopefully bringing transparency and accountability at the onset, he added.
“For talent acquisition, recruiting, staffing and HR professionals, AI is a new frontier that brings many unknown risks, so the executive order is mainly positive,” Cole said.
SHRM, the organization for HR professionals in the US, said it’s looking forward to ongoing discussions on AI. The technology can create new economic, job creation and skill-building opportunities for American workers, SHRM President and CEO Johnny Taylor Jr. said in a press release.
“SHRM appreciates the Biden Administration’s efforts to establish new standards for AI safety and security that advance equity and civil rights and promote innovation and competition,” Taylor said. “We look forward to the work ahead on achieving and implementing safe, secure and trustworthy AI applications.”
US Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, said in a press release that she agrees with the need to protect Americans’ personal information while at the same time preserving innovation.
“We’re at a pivotal moment with AI, and unilateral, one-size-fits-all regulations will not alleviate every concern and may ultimately hamper innovation,” McMorris Rodgers said. “To address the challenges of AI and take advantage of the benefits, the administration needs to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to strike the right balance between encouraging entrepreneurship and ensuring robust protections for people’s data.”