Blog and news
November 1, 2023

IFOW November 2023 Newsletter | The View from IFOW

As guests head to Bletchley for the UK’s AI Safety Summit, the scores of vibrant Fringe events that have sprung up across the country are reminding Governments across the globe that AI governance is a collective endeavour.

We are delighted at IFOW to be leading the Future of Work stream at our Making the Future Work conference at The Shard with the kind support of Warwick Business School, and featuring Dr Anne Marie Imafidon MBE, Ivana Bartoletti, Professors Sue Black OBE and Gina Neff and many others. A recording of the whole day can be found here.

Alongside this, we are supporting many others in a great swell of action which highlights the challenges that people are already facing – and the UK’s great strength and creativity in civil society, as well as AI innovation. This is a point crisply made in an open letter to Rishi Sunak that we were glad to be signatories to, and which was covered by the FT here.

At IFOW, we think the challenge to create and protect good work should have a special place in the responsible AI discourse. It bridges between thinking about impacts now with strategic futures planning. It balances thinking between harm prevention with seizing opportunities to shape a future in which everyone can flourish. And it helps move the discourse of automation on from jobs lost to the things that matter most to most – and are most likely to mediate better outcomes.

The real work will begin after the Summit, capturing and connecting Fringe events, building new collaborations and expanding new mission-driven networks. For this, our APPG on the Future of Work is right and ready - read about it below in our events listings, or reserve a place here.

Finally, a big thank you to our friends and partners who hosted IFOW at Conservative and Labour Party conferences: the Institute for Government, the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority, New Statesman, Bright Blue, Labour Digital, techUK and Prospect Union.

Anna, Abby and the IFOW team

Deep Dive: Tackling bias in artificial intelligence systems to promote equality

This month, we’re featuring a new study by Making the Future Work conference speaker Ivanna Bartoletti and Raphaele Xenidis, commissioned by the Council of Europe, on Tackling Bias in Artificial Systems to Promote Equality (Strasbourg 6.10.23)

Their paper highlights that bias is related not only to data but to socio-technical interactions. It comes in many forms – historical, representation, or aggregation bias, for example – and can arise at any point in the technology life cycle. The study goes on to identify the distinct challenges of discrimination powered by algorithmic technologies, including:

  • The large-scale effects on society, which can take place at speed  
  • Jeopardising accountability for, transparency in and scrutiny of decision-making and processes
  • The sources of algorithmic discrimination, which are difficult to identify due to the complexity and dynamic features of socio-technical systems  

Shortcomings in the existing legal framework to address algorithmic discrimination are set out, and it urges positive action to avoid the reinforcing of structural inequalities engrained in social data.

In this sense, the study reflects and builds on IFOW’s 2020 Machine Learning Case Studies and Mind the Gap report which recommended positive equality obligations for private as well as public sector bodies, as a core component of the algorithmic impact assessments proposed.

Interesting reads

Bounded Well-Being: Designing Technologies for Workers’ Well-Being in Corporate Programmes

A new study in Work, Employment and Society examines the relationship between workers’ well-being and digitalisation at work. It is based on the findings of a qualitative study carried out in a manufacturing company, and it focuses on the development of a wearable device for well-being. We have research forthcoming on this by one of our speakers at our conference today, Professor Phoebe Moore.

Emerging trends in AI skill demand across 14 OECD countries

The OECD has a new report that analyses the demand for positions that require skills needed to develop or work with AI systems across 14 OECD countries between 2019 and 2022. It finds that, despite rapid growth in the demand for AI skills, AI-related online vacancies comprised less than 1% of all job postings and were predominantly found in sectors such as ICT and Professional Services. We have a major study forthcoming looking at skills trends in the UK as part of our Pissarides Review into the Future of Work and Wellbeing, funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

What is the price of a skill? The value of complementarity

The global workforce is urged to constantly reskill, as technological change favours particular new skills while making others redundant. But which skills are a good investment for workers and firms? Fabian Stephany and Ole Teutloff have published a new journal article exploring how the market value of skills could be quantified.

Evaluating social and ethical risks from generative AI

"Ensuring that generative AI systems are developed and deployed responsibly requires carefully evaluating the potential ethical and social risks they may pose." Laura Weidinger and William Isaac have a new piece of research out with Google's Deep Mind introducing a context-based framework for comprehensively evaluating the social and ethical risks of AI systems. It proposes a three-layered framework for evaluating the social and ethical risks, including evaluations of system capability, human interaction, and systemic impacts.

Events / Opportunities

APPG on the Future of Work – From the Summit to the Road Ahead (15th November, London)

Following the AI Safety Summit and the many fringe events that have sprung up around it, at our APPG on the Future of Work we will be gathering an panel to lead a session reflecting on impacts and outcomes, and discussing what now needs to happen to deliver on responsible AI that sustains good work, where innovation and social good advance together.

CIPD Annual Conference (8th November, Manchester)

Our Director, Anna Thomas, will be speaking at the CIPD annual conference in Manchester, exploring the role of AI in HR systems, and how good work can remain at the centre of innovation.

AI in Work and Skills (8th November, London)

With their new report as a focus, techUK and Careers Camp are hosting an ‘AI in Work and Skills’ forum. It will bring together industry leaders, AI experts, and professionals from various sectors to discuss the latest advancements, trends, and challenges in the field of AI.

Realising Regional Growth (16th November, Liverpool)

The Centre for Cities is holding a half-day event focused on exploring Liverpool’s economic performance and how to improve productivity. Our Good Work Monitor tracks access to Good Work across all 203 local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland. Findings from that show just how central access to good work is in delivering on ‘levelling up’.

WorkerTech Conference (21st November, London and online)

The Resolution Foundation is bringing together over 100 innovators, researchers, funders and investors to share learning on how technology could improve workers’ pay, skills and career paths — if that potential can be harnessed – and what the risks to the lowest-paid are if these technologies are deployed without careful thought.


Thank you for your time and interest. If you enjoyed this newsletter and know someone else who would benefit from it, please do share it with them. For regular updates about our work, you can also follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.


Anna Thomas


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