The White House's recent blueprint for safeguarding civil rights when using artificial intelligence is a wake-up call for employers to carefully monitor any high-tech tools they use if they aren't already, experts said.
The "AI Bill of Rights," which the White House's science and technology office unveiled Tuesday, offered five tenets that governments and businesses should consider when deploying algorithmic technology.
Safety and effectiveness, protections against discrimination, and data privacy were among the recommended guideposts, as well as notice and explanation to those being evaluated and a fallback system where someone can opt out of engaging with automated tech.
The anti-discrimination section of the blueprint offered tips for employers to try and root out bias in their high-tech systems, like ensuring any data used in the tool isn't skewed toward one demographic group and making the product accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities.
The white paper echoed first-of-its-kind guidance that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice published in May on how employers can use AI without violating federal disability law.
The White House guidelines are high-level — the two agencies' fact sheets had more specific, practical directives for employers — though management-side employment attorneys said the scrutiny from the highest echelons of the federal government should put company leaders on alert. …
Federal Agency Action In The Pipeline
Tuesday's white paper underscores what management-side employment lawyers said they've expected from the Biden administration for a while — that more regulation is en route.
"It confirms what we in this space have been saying for quite some time, that regulatory change for these tools is coming," said Adam S. Forman, an Epstein Becker Green employment partner who advises businesses on emerging technologies. …
During a break in the event, EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows confirmed to reporters that AI is high on their task list — naming it among their "top-ticket items" — and also noting that it is one issue that the politically-divided agency leadership is unanimous on.
Employment lawyers watching this space said there's no doubt that additional activity from the EEOC, and also its sister agency that regulates federal contractors, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, is coming down the pike.
"The federal agencies that govern workplaces, most notably the EEOC and the OFCCP, are extremely interested in the impact that these technologies are having in the workplace, and they are working on various initiatives that address these technologies," Epstein Becker's Forman said.