Blog and news
April 29, 2022

IFOW Newsletter April 2022 | The view from IFOW

Dear Friends of IFOW,

This week we were delighted to be joined by a panel of experts to explore how algorithmic impact assessments (AIAs) are gaining traction internationally as a regulatory strategy for addressing and correcting algorithmic harms, and specifically in a workplace context.

At the event, Lord Tim Clement-Jones, former Chair of the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence was joined by: Benoit Deshaies, A/Director, Data and Artificial Intelligence, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat; Brittany Smith, Policy Director, Data & Society; and Dr David Leslie, Director of Ethics and Responsible Innovation Research, Alan Turing Institute.

In general, there was broad support from the panel for a UK Accountability for Algorithms Act, grounded in a mandatory AIA, as recommended in our Mind the Gap report. As part of the next phase of the UK AI Strategy, this could build on the best of the international models discussed – the US Algorithmic Accountability Act and the Canadian Directive on Automated Decision-Making – and incorporate the Good Work Charter as a checklist of impacts.

You can read the transcript of the discussion, or watch it back here:

As the Strategic Research Partner and Secretariat for the APPG on the Future of Work, we are planning a series of future events on a variety of topics related to the future of work including flexible working, digital rights and women in AI. Make sure you keep an eye on your inbox, and are following us on Twitter (@FutureWorkInst) to stay informed.

The APPG is also open for membership. Find out more about the benefits of being a member, and apply to join here.

Best wishes,

Anna and the Institute for the Future of Work team

Anna Thomas
Director
Institute for the Future of Work

Deep dive – the Canadian Treasury Board Directive on Automated Decision-Making

Following this week's APPG event on algorithmic impact assessments, Benoit Deshaies, Acting Director of Data and Artificial Intelligence for the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, announced the kick-off of stakeholder engagements for the third review of the Treasury Board Directive on Automated Decision-Making.

At the event, Benoit explained that it was three years ago that they adopted the algorithmic impact assessment (AIA) in Canada as a tool to support the Directive on Automated Decision-Making, which sets mandatory requirements for federal government institutions using technology that's assists in making administrative decisions.

The review aims to take stock of the current state of the Directive, and identify risks and challenges to the Government’s commitment to responsible AI in the federal public sector. Notably, they also propose to:

- expand the scope of the Directive to also apply to decisions impacting federal employees

- reinforce transparency and accountability

- strengthen protections against discrimination and harm

- clarify requirements and support operational needs.

Over the coming weeks, the Treasury Board will be reaching out to federal partners and external experts to validate and inform their proposal to amend the Directive and AIA. For more details see:

- this 1-page overview of the key issues, policy recommendations and provisional amendments

- this report on the current state of the Directive, and the issues in detail.

The deadline for initial stakeholder feedback is Thursday 30 June. They are asking for comments to ai-ia@tbs-sct.gc.ca.

Interesting reads

Women in Work Index 2022 – Building an inclusive workplace in a net-zero world
This year's PwC Women in Work Index reflects on the impacts of COVID-19 on women's lives, jobs, economic prosperity and broader wellbeing, and importantly looks towards the future.

It finds that progress towards equality has been slow but steady over past 10 years. However, in the past two years, there has been a reversal, seeing less women participating in labour market and higher unemployment. Looking forward to the next decade, the report highlights that the transition to net zero will further perpetuate inequalities unless there is targeted intervention.

Inclusion on purpose: An intersectional approach to creating a culture of belonging at work
This piece in MIT Press discusses new book – Inclusion on purpose – by Ruchika Tulshyan, which sets out a blueprint for how organisations can foster diversity, equity and inclusion. Tulshyan argues that we need to urgently change the paradigm, which has "for far too long lauded White male leaders", so that "everyone with ambition, skill and potential can succeed". The book centres the workplace experience of women of colour, and shows how to build an inclusive workplace and culture through storytelling and practical frameworks.

Navigating diverse forms of work: how to advance decent and fair work
Jovana Karanovic, Jelena Sapic and Zachary Kilhoffer present the outcome of twelve roundtable discussions facilitated by the Reshaping Work Dialogue project. The report tackles four key topic areas relevant for diverse workers (an umbrella term covering a variety of working arrangements that go beyond full-time, open-ended contracts; also referred to as non-standard, atypical or new forms of employment). These are:

1. access to social protection

2. workers' representation

3. algorithmic management and transparency

4. re-skilling, up-skilling and micro-credentials.

The importance of human capital in the age of automation

In this LSE blog post, Giuseppe Di Giacomo and Benjamin Lerch discuss how workers are responding to the growing automation of production processes, and why human capital adjustments are crucial for future labour market competition. They conclude that while the world of work is changing, this does not mean that we have lost our race against the machines.

💥Myth busting💥

Graduate job myths

A new report from Universities UK finds that employer demand for UK graduates is significant, has increased year-on-year and is likely to grow in the future as the country has a skills shortage. The four myths graduate myths the report challenges are:

Myth 1: Everyone goes to university nowadays

Myth 2: There aren’t enough graduate jobs

Myth 3: Some degrees have little value to employersMyth 4: All the best graduate jobs are in London.

The automation myth

This article from Clinton Williamson in The Baffler challenges the "automation myth" of a classless society emerging through automation. In the piece, Williamson discusses ideas of a range of thinkers, including: James Bogg’s analysis of the shift from automation to full unemployment; Benanav’s proposal that automation will lead to growing underemployment; Smith’s thesis that economic stagnation is the outcome of many jobs not producing "value"; and Mueller’s argument that due to automation, work is being reshaped and hollowing out mid-level jobs.

Events coming up in May

Work matters 2022: Back on track?

14:00-15:00 BST | Tuesday 17 May 2022

The Work Foundation and a panel of experts review the labour market statistics from the Office for National Statistics and the Queen's Speech, and ask what they mean for workers, businesses and communities.

From platforms to promotions

17:30 BST | Wednesday 18 May 2022

The Resolution Foundation hosts an in-person and interactive webinar to discuss how technology and social investment can move the dial on supporting young people to transition into good jobs.

The COVID pandemic and the resurgence of the shorter working week

13:00-14:00 BST | Wednesday 25 May 2022

The Digital Futures at Work Research Centre hosts a discussion outlining early insights from research into the rapidly-growing number of employer-led experiments with the "four-day week", following the COVID pandemic.

Opportunities

Economics/econometrics researcher
We are looking to appoint a researcher on a short-term basis (3-6 months, starting immediately) as part of our Pissarides Review into the Future of Work and Wellbeing. The researcher will either hold, or be working towards an MSc or PhD in economics, econometrics, statistics or a similar quantitative discipline.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. Indicative pay: £20-25/hr, subject to experience.

For further information, or to apply, please contact Dr Jonathan Clarke (j.clarke@imperial.ac.uk).

Apply for the Digital Futures at Work Research Centre's (Digit) Innovation Fund
Digit has opened the third round of its Innovation Fund. The Fund supports innovative research projects, no longer than one year in length, that advance our understanding of how digital technologies are transforming work. Past and current projects have explored the future of co-working, virtual internships, neurodiversity and remote working and how digital skills are developed in the UK creative freelance industry.

Funding is available for projects costing between £10,000 and £50,000. Find out more and apply.

Part-time Researcher – Algorithms at Work
The Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Faculty of Law, is seeking a researcher with a strong background in employment law and technology to join the core team for the ERC-funded iManage project, led by Principal Investigator (PI) Prof Jeremias Adams-Prassl.

The post is part time (0.5 FTE) and fixed term for 12 months to commence on 1 September 2022.

Closing date for applications: 12:00 BST, Monday 9 May 2022. Find out more and apply.

Thank you for your time and interest. If you enjoyed this, and know someone else that would benefit, please share it with them. If someone has forwarded this to you, and you would like to receive this update yourself, please subscribe here.

If you have any ideas, comments or suggestions for our round-up, please drop us a line at
team@ifow.org.

Author

Anna Thomas

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