We recently published the latest episode of OPEN Talks, where Miriam Bruce, partner in the London Employment Group, discusses artificial intelligence (AI), its regulatory landscape and the potential risks for employers using such technology. In rather timely fashion, that week also saw a number of conflicting developments in the AI space that reflect the risks and global legal positions discussed in our podcast (listen here).

Goldman Sachs released a report estimating that 300 million jobs could be exposed to automation at the hands of generative AI. While the labour market might face significant disruption, the report states that AI developments could lead to the creation of new jobs and higher productivity, eventually increasing annual global GDP by 7%.

These widely-reported predictions were closely followed by the UK government’s AI-focused white paper, “A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation“. Similar to Goldman Sachs’ report, the paper highlights AI as “critical” technology that can create new jobs and improve the workplace. The government is proposing to implement a new, initially non-statutory and principles-based, framework to bring “clarity and coherence” to the regulatory landscape for AI.

While the white paper is broad and wide-ranging, a key aim of the proposed framework is to build public trust in AI and it acknowledges the need to address wider concerns about bias and discrimination. The government’s initial proposal is for existing regulators to implement the framework and principles. For example, it provides a recruitment-based case study, where it foresees that the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Information Commissioner’s Office and others will be encouraged to issue joint guidance and help businesses apply transparency measures and bias mitigation standards when navigating the regulatory landscape. (Look out for a wider discussion on the content and impact of this white paper on businesses by our IP team – this will follow shortly.)

Aside from the government’s white paper, and despite steps being taken in the UK, EU and the US to regulate AI, Italy recently became the first Western country to ban ChatGPT, pending an investigation into the software’s compliance with GDPR laws. A number of other countries, including China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, have reportedly already blocked ChatGPT. It remains to be seen whether other Western countries will follow Italy’s lead.   

Given the number of developments in recent weeks (with no sign of a pause…), employers should continue to watch this space, particularly if using AI platforms during recruitment or other stages of the employment relationship. While the race for regulation continues, until there is an established framework governing its development, implementation and use, AI will not be far from the headlines…