Nonprofit Eyes Worker-Led Tech Standards


The Future of Workers Initiative has officially launched to support a worker-led process to help shape policies and standards in the workplace surrounding artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

The initiative – supported by the Ford Foundation and the Guild of Future Architects – is focused on helping workers, businesses, and investors work together to shape how artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies are used in the workplace.

Specifically, it is focused on “developing local and national networks of workers, creating an infrastructure for worker engagement, piloting new models for worker-industry dialogue, and developing industry-specific guidelines and standards,” according to a press release.

“The public and not just expert participation in the future of AI and technology is essential,” said Wilneida Negrón, the founder of The Future of Workers Initiative. “We have found that when given the time and space to understand technology trends, workers have ideas for solutions, policy proposals, and other protections.”

The initiative wants to ensure that responsible AI practices are built in during the early stages of company investing, calling on CEOs to support the long-term economic well-being of workers.

It also aims to encourage corporate boards to adapt their existing risk and human capital management frameworks to better understand the risks or impacts new technologies may have on workers.

“When workers across industries have a say in shaping technology at the workplace, innovation will not only be profitable, it will also be equitable,” said Ritse Erumi, the program officer for Ford Foundation’s Future of Work(ers) program, an early seed funder for the initiative.

“The Future of Workers Initiative believes that democracy is not just casting a single vote, but a process of hearing every voice,” Erumi added. “By forging deep collaboration among workers, founders, investors, CEOs, and board members to design the future of work, this initiative offers a tangible version of human-centered innovation: one where everyone benefits.”

The initiative is looking to achieve its mission through strategic research on emerging labor, finance, and technology trends; financial support for workers to come together and collaborate; industry engagement; policy engagement; workshops and trainings to educate and help industry partners; and leadership development.

The non-profit is also conducting surveys across multiple industries to gauge worker perspectives on existing and emerging tech in the workplace. According to its website, these include “AI, algorithmic management, productivity monitoring, hiring technologies, workplace benefits, among others, to explore the broad scope of the ‘future of work’ beyond just AI and automation.”

“It is a critical time for workers with the rapid development and deployment of AI and other technologies in the workplace. I’m looking forward to the insights and actions this project encourages from investors, founders, CEOs, and boards,” said Roy Bahat, head of Bloomberg Beta and chair of the Aspen Business Roundtable on Organized Labor.