As companies hunt to maximise profit margins, algorithmic tracking has been introduced to ensure employees are always working. However, those same algorithms are crushing the mental health of workers, leading to depression and burnout.
Reported by The Guardian, UK MPs and AI researchers are working together to build an “accountability for algorithms act”. This act would seek to penalise companies that use software to crush out peak performance from employees until they crack.
Accountability for algorithms act to fight algorithmic tracking
The proposed act looks to establish a world that ensures “AI puts people first”. If the act was to go ahead them employees would have a way in how algorithmic tracking is used in the work place. For example, if all employees were upset at a certain function of the software, it would not be used.
This is because the “pervasive monitoring” is having “negative impacts on mental and physical wellbeing” of employees. Additionally, during the already stressful pandemic, the use of algorithmic tracking “significantly increased”.
The act explains that “constant, real-time micro-management and automated assessment” is putting “extreme pressure” on individual workers. Furthermore, workers such as Amazon delivery drivers see can get pay decreases for issues that aren't actually their fault.
Battling unfairness in the workplace
The act claims that the introduction of algorithmic tracking has not only decreased employees independence, but also created a sense of unfairness in businesses. Time constraints on certain jobs also result in more dangerous conditions. “professional drivers will sometimes jump a red light or brake too hard because they are under time constraints”, says one report.
UK Labour MP, Clive Lewis said: “Our report shows why and how government must bring forward robust proposals for AI regulation. There are marked gaps in regulation at an individual and corporate level that are damaging people and communities right across the country.”
If the act does go ahead, then big business will have to respond to the claims. With massive companies already moving towards mass automation in the wake of labour shortages, will they react with less jobs?