New Jobs Create Need for Laws to Protect Employees, Add Benefits

After 25 years of AI research, Microsoft aims to be the industry leader when it comes to regulations, policies and, ultimately, laws related to the resulting technologies. In anticipation of sweeping changes, the President and Chief Legal Officer of the AI division wrote part of a 149-page book, “The Future Computed,” then released it at the Davos, Switzerland World Economic Forum.

As an industry leader on employment issues, Microsoft participates in the Partnership on AI to draft new rules and ethics with competitors Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook, according to a story from, written by Dina Bass:

“Companies making and selling AI software will need to be held responsible for potential harm caused by “unreasonable practices” –  if a self-driving car program is set up in an unsafe manner that causes injury or death, for example, Microsoft said.  And as AI and automation boost the number of laborers in the gig-economy or on-demand jobs, Microsoft said technology companies need to take responsibility and advocate for protections and benefits for workers, rather than passing the buck by claiming to be “just the technology platform” enabling all this change.”

Ryan Calo, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law, said Microsoft is seeking to be “trusted” in the AI field and anticipates a need for regulations in various areas, especially related to employee protections. Laws will likely not be drafted for years to come, however, according to the article.

“In the nearer term, Microsoft is advocating for changes to labor laws to properly classify workers and allocate benefits like health care and retirement planning to people with jobs such as an Uber driver or Postmates delivery person. Smith expects there will be a need for a new category of worker to cover these employees, who are neither full-time nor independent contractors, he said.”

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