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Harnessing AI for a Better Future

CES 2024 Panel Discussion Insights on Workforce, Healthcare, Wellness & AI

At CES 2024, Modev brought together industry experts to explore the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on workers and the potential for a more equitable and beneficial future. Under the banner, 'Workforce, Healthcare, Wellness & AI,' Liz Schuler, President of AFL-CIO, Jesse Ehrenfeld, President of the American Medical Association, and Kathy Baxter, Principal Architect for Responsible AI and Tech at Salesforce, shared their insights in a revealing panel discussion on the topic.

The panel was hosted by Julie Su, US Department of Labor Secretary, who also shared in the exchanges.

This post looks at some of the key points they discussed. You can view the complete panel discussion here.

The Power of AI: Hopes and Worries

After a brief introduction, in which Julie Su places the panel in its historical (and technological) context, she begins the discussion with a lightning round, where she asks each speaker to share one hope and one worry regarding the impact of AI on workers.

Jesse Ehrenfeld expressed hope that AI in healthcare could alleviate burnout and administrative burdens, allowing healthcare professionals to focus more on patient care as a matter of course. Her concerns were about the potential for bias or design flaws in AI systems that could result in harm to patients or healthcare workers.

Kathy Baxter highlighted the potential for AI to personalize learning and enable faster skill development. She envisions a future where technology makes jobs safer, less stressful, and more productive. Her worries, however, revolve around the loss of essential foundational experiences for newcomers entering various fields due to excessive automation.

Liz Schuler emphasized the importance of worker voices and collective bargaining in shaping the development and implementation of AI. She stressed the need to address workers' fears of job obsolescence and ensure technology is used responsibly and safely. Liz also highlighted the role of unions in co-creating technology solutions that benefit both workers and employers.

In leading the discussion, Julie Su kept it revolving around worker-centric issues and technological innovation. As such, she emphasized the government's role in promoting worker well-being and fostering innovation. She acknowledged the need for regulations that balance encouraging innovation and protecting workers' rights and safety and underscored the importance of robust data privacy regulations and safeguards against worker surveillance.

That framework allowed each panelist to voice their views on the subject. They each came at it from different angles, but they all meshed together through the prism of using AI to enhance workforce wellness and healthcare.

Below are the main takeaways.

Ethics by Design: Kathy Baxter on Responsible AI

Kathy shared her insights into Salesforce's approach to responsible AI, which it refers to as "ethics by design," and the need for transparency in AI systems. She discussed the potential of AI to personalize learning and accelerate skill development. Still, her contributions to the discussion were focused on the importance of minimizing the loss of foundational experiences in the workplace - particularly for younger workers - with excessive automation.

Also of significant importance to Kathy is inclusion and how AI development must include diverse voices. She highlighted the value of incorporating diverse voices in AI development and the need to actively monitor AI systems for bias and harm. Kathy believes (and makes the case) that transparency and accountability in AI systems are crucial to responsible AI development and promoting trust in technology.

Liz Schuler: Workers' Participation and Collective Bargaining

Liz Schuler discussed workers' pivotal role in shaping AI's impact on the job market. She advocated for worker participation and co-creation in the tech's development, ensuring their expertise and experiences are valued. And she did this while emphasizing the importance of addressing workers' fears of job obsolescence and ensuring responsible use of technology.

Collective bargaining also emerged as a powerful tool to incorporate worker perspectives and negotiate responsible AI implementation. Case in point, she shared some successful examples of collective bargaining agreements that have protected workers' rights and well-being in various industries. Her contributions to the panel primarily focused on worker participation, collective bargaining, and the importance of responsible AI development.

Jesse Ehrenfeld: The Need for Transparency and Trust

Jesse Ehrenfeld emphasized the importance of trust in AI systems for both healthcare professionals and patients. In his informed insights to the panel discussion, Jesse put forth the concept of "augmented intelligence" in healthcare, where AI complements and enhances the capabilities of healthcare professionals. To get there, however, he believes that trust, transparency, and a regulatory framework are not just important but essential in ensuring the use of AI in healthcare is safe and reliable.

He explains that re-engineering healthcare delivery using AI is critical to improving accessibility and efficiency. When he says "re-engineer healthcare delivery," he's referring to the transformative potential of artificial intelligence to enhance accessibility, efficiency, and patient outcomes within the healthcare system. Jesse's contributions make it clear that collaboration between government, industry, and healthcare professionals will be vital in realizing AI's potential within healthcare.

Wrap Up

The CES 2024 panel discussion shed light on the potential of AI to enhance workers' lives and transform the healthcare industry - for the better. The panelists all emphasized the importance of responsible AI development, worker participation, transparency, and government regulation, demonstrating that we can come together to find common solutions to the issues we are collectively facing and ensure that we all share in the opportunities made possible by AI.

The insights shared during this panel serve as a call to action for industry leaders, policymakers, and technologists to prioritize the human impact of AI and ensure that it benefits workers and society as a whole. A quote by the panel’s host and US Department of Labor Secretary, Julie Su, sums this up nicely: "I am a firm believer that the impact of AI on workers can be transformative, but it is our responsibility to ensure that this transformation is positive and equitable. We must prioritize the well-being and empowerment of workers in developing and deploying AI technologies."


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