Global Legislation & Managing AI in the Workplace by IRIS Elements image

Global Legislation & Managing AI in the Workplace by IRIS Elements

Artificial Intelligence impacts all our lives. From supercharging business performance to improving customer experience, AI is everywhere we look.

onTuesday, 30 April 2024

Let’s be clear, AI complements human intelligence but is not a replacement for it, especially in relation to business and industry. Rather, it undertakes repetitive and menial tasks to free up time for others to focus on creative and strategic aspects of their jobs.

Since the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, AI has become increasingly mainstream, and businesses have been quick to leverage the power of this new technology with even greater capabilities. But with that also comes the need for greater regulation and control until the full implications of AI are understood.

Every country in the world will eventually have to adopt new legislation to face the challenges posed by AI. For now, when it comes to managing AI in the workplace, your business must understand its role, its effect on employees and customers, and how it’s being impacted by global legislation.

How are countries managing AI in the workplace?

We’ve touched on how AI presents employers with fresh opportunities to improve performance. As machines become more and more capable of problem-solving, learning, and reasoning, businesses and organizations across all industries and sectors are increasingly eager to automate laborious processes and enhance operations with AI.

From smart email creation and chatbots to personal digital assistants and content creation, AI can enhance productivity and improve processes in the workplace in multiple ways. However, such advancements have also made AI a priority for policymakers, and business leaders are now seeking guidance over the use of this powerful tool and the complex regulatory maze that is emerging on a global level.

Here, we will provide a snapshot of how levels of AI control differ around the world in relation to the opportunities and challenges that the technology presents.

1. United States

There is no dedicated federal AI law in the United States. Instead, it relies on legislation specific to industries and sectors such as finance, healthcare, and education which align with the country’s general principles.

Agencies like the Federal Trade Commission offer plenty of guidance on AI use in business where the focus tends to be on transparency and fairness. However, states like California have developed privacy laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act which govern the use of data processing in the workplace.

2. Canada

In 2017, Canada became the first country to establish a national AI strategy that set out to make it a world leader in AI. The idea was two-fold: to make Canadian businesses more competitive by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, and to grow the digital economy. As the use of AI both in life and business accelerated over the years, in 2022 Canada made its first attempt at regulating AI with the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act which aims to “guide AI innovation in a positive direction, and to encourage the responsible adoption of AI technologies by Canadians and Canadian businesses.”

Canada is now working together with the United States, European Union, UK, and other international partners to develop a coordinated approach to AI that will protect its citizens globally and ensure Canadian businesses meet robust international standards.

3. United Kingdom

In the UK, a variety of legislation and regulation applies to AI. It incorporates everything from data protection to equity law, and from consumer protection to product safety. However, there is no all-encompassing framework that governs the use of AI in the workplace.

That said, the UK government is urging businesses to manage AI risk now and introduce best practice standards that comply with existing laws. This came after the publication of a government AI white paper which details its plans for future regulation of AI and its impact on businesses. For now, the UK has a wait-and-see policy regarding the risks posed by AI and will take a flexible approach to regulation.

4. European Union

The UK’s current approach to AI regulation is different from that of the European Union where the use of artificial intelligence is regulated by the AI Act, the world’s first comprehensive law of its kind.

The Act groups AI systems into categories based on risk and sets out clear guidelines on conformity and data usage restrictions for businesses to follow. The AI Act will come into force in 2024 and will give most businesses a 2-year period to ensure they’re fully compliant, although those using prohibited AI systems are likely to have a shorter deadline.

5. Australia

There is no AI-specific legislation in Australia, though artificial intelligence systems are regulated by privacy laws such as the country’s Privacy Act. Meanwhile, the Australian Government has acknowledged AI’s potential to grow its economy and is therefore taking action to ensure it is used in a safe and responsible way by businesses and individuals.

Australia is now looking at introducing mandatory rules for AI development and the use of high-risk models in business and society. It is likely to do this by tweaking existing laws or creating new legislation purely for artificial intelligence. Consultations between the government and industry leaders are ongoing at the time of writing and are aimed at developing voluntary AI safety standards and ensuring the clear labelling and watermarking of AI-generated content, particularly relating to social media.

6. China

In 2023, China released details of legislation it was working on which included an ‘Artificial Intelligence Law.’ This has led to speculation that in 2024 it will follow the European Union’s example and announce its own far-reaching AI Act.

Even now, China has regulations in place that address AI ethics and data security, as well as measures in place that control the export of AI technologies to other countries. It is also seeking public input on new rules relating to AI standards and certification processes, with businesses at the forefront.

7. Japan

Japan has a softer approach to AI regulation than other countries, but it has published AI ethical guidelines and the Artificial Intelligence R&D Strategy to promote research and development into artificial intelligence. As far as businesses go, Japan is now urging those looking to leverage AI capabilities in the workplace to pay close attention to legal issues and how they affect data privacy, copyright, and liability. While Japan does not have any specific AI legislation, that could be about to change after the country’s ruling party urged the government to introduce new laws regulating AI technologies before the end of 2024.

8. India

India does not have any laws or regulations around the use of AI in business, but it continues to explore ways to control artificial intelligence, data protection, and digital technologies. However, the government’s early attempts at introducing regulation were met with a backlash from the business community and global companies who argued it would be a disaster for innovation.

In this instance, Indian authorities proposed that users of artificial intelligence, large language models (LLMs), automation, and algorithms would have to seek permission from the government before they could engage with these digital tools. The mandate was eventually withdrawn and replaced with a fresh advisory stating that any unreliable AI model must be clearly labelled if there is “inherent fallibility or unreliability of the output generated,” so that users are made aware.

9. Singapore

In 2019, Singapore was one of the first countries to form a national AI strategy and every year since it has produced new guidelines and initiatives to regulate its use in business and society. While there is no hard law governing AI, Singapore’s Model AI Governance Framework offers solid guidance on implementing responsible AI systems, while the Personal Data Protection Act includes areas relating to AI and data privacy.

Additionally, Singapore is now proposing new guidelines concerning the use of personal data to develop machine learning AI models or systems as well as the use of personal data to develop AI-generated decisions, recommendations, and predictions.

10. United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The UAE is eager to become a leader in regulating and testing AI technologies and develop global rules governing its use. It is now forming strategic partnerships with both the public and private sectors with a view to creating a controlled environment for testing artificial intelligence models before any regulations are implemented.

AI has been at the forefront of innovation in the UAE since its government launched the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence in 2017. The UAE Council for Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain is also tasked with proposing policies for the creation of a user-friendly, adaptable AI ecosystem that helps drive both business and economic growth in the region.

Can you train employees to use AI in the workplace?

Yes, employees can leverage AI’s vast capabilities in the workplace. AI is an incredibly powerful tool for learning and development, but it can also pose challenges for leaders and managers. However, businesses and organizations should take positive steps to train and empower their employees to use AI to their advantage and enhance their performance while maintaining their autonomy and creativity.

Educating employees in data literacy, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence will help them use AI effectively and ethically in the workplace so they use the technology correctly and responsibly. This task of training employees in the use of AI can feel like a monumental task for any business with an international presence in multiple countries where AI laws and regulations differ between territories. For this reason, many choose to outsource their HR function to a provider with global expertise in AI regulations and developments in order to remain compliant with regional legislation and avoid the possibility of penalties and fines.

Do You Need Help with Managing AI in the Workplace?

The laws around artificial intelligence and its use are constantly evolving, and many countries are developing or refining regulations that both enhance opportunities and address emerging challenges. For international companies and organizations, keeping on top of AI legislation in specific regions is vital in the evolving digital landscape. As a global HR consultancy service, IRIS FMP can support your expansion plans into new territories and ensure you remain compliant with relevant AI laws. Contact IRIS FMP today.

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