NUJ signs open letter to Rishi Sunak ahead of AI Summit

  • 30 Oct 2023

Union joins groups warning “communities and workers most affected by AI have been marginalised by the Summit.”

The National Union of Journalists has joined more than 100 organisations including unions, the TUC and Amnesty International in calling on Rishi Sunak to ensure the UK's upcoming AI Summit considers harms posed by AI with transparency, including stakeholders in discussions able to reflect concerns held by various communities. 

Dear Prime Minister,

Your ‘Global Summit on AI Safety’ seeks to tackle the transformational risks and benefits of AI, acknowledging that AI “will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.”

Yet the communities and workers most affected by AI have been marginalised by the Summit.

The involvement of civil society organisations that bring a diversity of expertise and perspectives has been selective and limited.

This is a missed opportunity.

As it stands, the Summit is a closed door event, overly focused on speculation about the remote ‘existential risks’ of ‘frontier’ AI systems – systems built by the very same corporations who now seek to shape the rules.

For many millions of people in the UK and across the world, the risks and harms of AI are not distant – they are felt in the here and now.

This is about being fired from your job by algorithm, or unfairly profiled for a loan based on your identity or postcode.

People are being subject to authoritarian biometric surveillance, or to discredited predictive policing.

Small businesses and artists are being squeezed out, and innovation smothered as a handful of big tech companies capture even more power and influence.

To make AI truly safe we must tackle these and many other issues of huge individual and societal significance. Successfully doing so will lay the foundations for managing future risks.

For the Summit itself and the work that has to follow, a wide range of expertise and the voices of communities most exposed to AI harms must have a powerful say and equal seat at the table. The inclusion of these voices will ensure that the public and policy makers get the full picture.

In this way we can work towards ensuring the future of AI is as safe and beneficial as possible for communities in the UK and across the world.

Kate Bell, TUC assistant general secretary, said:

“It is hugely disappointing that unions and wider civil society have been denied proper representation at this Summit.

“AI is already making life-changing decisions – like how we work, how we’re hired and who gets fired.

“But working people have yet to be given a seat at the table.  

“This event was an opportunity to bring together a wide range of voices to discuss how we deal with immediate threats and make sure AI benefits all.  

“It shouldn’t just be tech bros and politicians who get to shape the future of AI.”

The AI Summit takes place at Bletchley Park on 1 and 2 November. Access the full list of signatories

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