SAG-AFTRA Logo in top left corner, AFL-CIO in top right corner, "2nd Annual Labor Innovation & Technology Summit" in white centered and "January 6-8 Las Vegas" below it in yellow.

Discussion Examines Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Deepfakes and the Importance of Unions

LAS VEGAS  – The second annual Labor Innovation and Technology Summit came to a close Wednesday in Las Vegas. Presented by SAG-AFTRA and the AFL-CIO, the summit brought together leaders in labor, entertainment, technology and academia to discuss the impact of emerging technology on labor. The gathering took place during CES 2020, the world’s largest tech show and culminated with a curated tour of CES exhibitions.

The summit featured opening remarks by SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris and a keynote address by SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor participated in the first panel, which discussed protecting workers’ rights as automation and artificial intelligence become ubiquitous in the workplace. A second panel focused on national security, digital exploitation and identity protection.

“I would like to thank Liz Shuler at the AFL-CIO for partnering with us in sponsoring the second annual Labor Innovation and Technology Summit. Technology has grown exponentially and it’s imperative that we stay in front of these advancements. There's no question that unions are the voice of working people and they lift us higher,” said Carteris.

“It was an honor to bring the expertise from the AFL-CIO Future of Work commission that involved numerous unions to this summit organized by SAG-AFTRA. From its origins, the labor movement has been dealing with technological change, and has adapted to continually improve the lives of working families. As advancements in technology move forward, we need to make sure that workers are seated at the head of the table so that our collective bargaining agreements reflect the realities of today’s workers,” said Shuler.

“Those of us representing working people and the companies with which we engage have a tremendous opportunity to ensure the awesome power of technology is balanced with the basic values of treating people fairly, respecting their privacy and protecting their right to personal integrity,” said White.

Added SAG-AFTRA Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, “We can’t rely on the ethics of technology companies to help us, we have to stand up for ourselves to make sure that we're using the maximum collective bargaining strength that we’ve gained to balance the power between workers and the companies that employ them. We also need to push for stronger legislative protections. We can’t ignore technology or keep our heads in the sand. We need to make technology work for us, not against us.”

As the voice of working Americans, unions play a critical role in ensuring that rapidly evolving technology, which has the potential to bring so many great things to humanity, doesn’t harm workers in the process. Recognizing that this can only be accomplished by partnering with the tech industry, the second annual Labor Innovation & Technology Summit brought together diverse voices for a frank conversation about where we are, where we’re going and the critical milestones along the way. 

Both panels were presented live and streamed on Facebook. Participants included:

The Ethics of Transformation: How to Protect Workers in a Rapidly Evolving Technological Environment: Experts examined the effects of automation on jobs in the labor market and provided guideposts for unions, advocates and workers in this shifting terrain.
 
MODERATOR: Cheri Preston, Anchor/Correspondent, ABC News Radio
 
PANELISTS:

  • Lee Branstetter, Director, Future of Work Initiative and Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Heinz College and Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Louis Hyman, Professor and Director, Institute for Workplace Studies, Cornell University ILR School
  • Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO
  • D. Taylor, International President, UNITE HERE
  • David White, National Executive Director, SAG-AFTRA

Starring Digital Data and Artificial Intelligence – When Real and True Isn’t: In an environment that derides mainstream media as “fake news” and where deepfakes pose a threat to national and personal security, how can viewers rely on what they see and hear? This panel aims to answer the question “What is real?”

MODERATOR: Carolyn Giardina, Contributing Editor, Tech, The Hollywood Reporter

PANELISTS:

  • Wael Abd Almageed, Co-Director, Center for Vision, Image, Speech and Text Analytics (VISTA), USC Viterbi School of Engineering Information Sciences Institute
  • Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, COO and General Counsel, SAG-AFTRA
  • Chris Nichols, Director, Chaos Group Labs 
  • Andy Stack, Founder and President, Arcturus
  • Jonathan Taplin, Director Emeritus, USC Annenberg Innovation Lab

The next Labor Innovation and Technology Summit takes place in 2021.

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