Snynet Solution Logo
MON - SUN: 10 AM - 6 PM
+60 11 5624 8319


AI can help guide our return to the workplace

Image Description

Not long ago, the ethics and transparency of AI might have seemed like the sort of esoteric, cerebral fodder that makes for a good sci-fi, sure, but tenuous in real-world import. That is no longer the case. In fact, in the context of emerging from global pandemic, the impact of AI on our work lives could take on new implications, giving the transparency and trustworthiness of AI-based applications profound new relevance, particularly for employees around the world who are gearing up for the return to work.

About the author

Joe Berti is VP at IBM AI Applications.

As companies around the world begin reopening offices, for example, AI can take on a pivotal new role in the workplace: supporting continuous management and maintenance of facilities. This means that intelligent systems could impact millions of workers who may never have imagined AI playing a role in managing their working environment. But with the new urgency of worker safety, AI can be used to gather data in real-time and provide actionable insights that could help organizations perform countless essential tasks such as defining new protocols for employees, imposing social distancing, enabling contact tracing and mapping seating arrangements.

Employees may even begin interacting directly with AI on a daily basis, as companies look to resources like chatbots to help people accomplish simple tasks like booking rooms or deciding the best time to get lunch.

The problem is, even the smartest AI is useless if you can’t trust what it’s telling you. That’s why these powerful tools for workplace return should be governed by a sound ethical framework to ensure they help mediate a return to work without infringing on employee data rights or privacy. In bringing AI to bear on the challenge of workplace reentry, organizations must act in ways that foster consumer trust. Though it’s understandable why organizations might want to cast the widest possible net in gathering data, it is critical these efforts must be done in a way that is consistent with privacy rights and expectations.

Stewardship of data

The stakes of getting this right are high. Employees want the ability to plan proactively, to reserve spaces and find the information they need quickly. AI can help enable that preparedness, but it must be carried out by companies committed to the responsible stewardship of data and technology. For example, IBM’s key guardrails for COVID-19 technology dictate explainability, so that consumers understand what data is collected and how it is used. It also argues that data and the insights gathered should always belong to the owner, that is, the person the data and insights are about. And it also holds that technology like AI must always be used in ways that are lawful, fair, inclusive, and non-discriminatory.

As new solutions to protect worker safety are deployed in the field, guardrails like these should be backed into the solution’s very foundation, down to the ways information is stored or how long it is maintained.

Hot spots

For the vast majority of organizations, the good news is that robust workplace controls do not need to come at the expense of employee privacy. Innovative platforms are able to help extrapolate information by tapping into the wealth of anonymized data generated by computers, routers and numerous other endpoints present in practically any workplace for the purposes of helping manage workspaces. Density heat mapping can make it possible to spot clusters or problem points without identifying who the individuals are. AI-based assistants and AI-optimized seating arrangements can help employees find individual or communal workspaces quickly without having to track any one person’s movements. Interventions can be made without individual confrontation, by adding additional signage or sanitizing stations or by enacting one-way hall and passageways.

In other words, there are many ways to monitor occupancy without necessarily monitoring individual people. Wi-Fi and mobile beacons generate ‘hot spots’ that can show facilities managers where employees are congregating, and where an intervention may be necessary. Visual detection of space and movement can monitor for social distancing without tracking workers on an individual basis, while infrared can tell what proportion of employees are wearing masks without identifying who they are. There is no reason to put people on the spot or undermine the focused environment people need to do their best work.

These techniques can all be designed to maintain workplace protocols without harvesting personal information or making employees feel like they are being watched. To the contrary, these techniques can also help employers and their employees plan, so that interventions aren’t needed in the first place. By using innovation to ethically adapt to this new normal, we will confront the challenges of this pandemic and accomplish what matters most: recovering as a society.


28 Apr 2021



Other Blog

  • Intel Arc Alchemist GPUs might not beat RTX 3070 – but it doesn't matter

    Intel Arc Alchemist leaked benchmarks keep showing up, but it's too early to know exactly how accurate they could be. But even if Intel doesn't challenge the top-end of the market, its graphics cards could be promising.

    Read More
  • AMD’s Big Navi tease in Fortnite hints that next-gen GPUs could be imminent

    Something big is coming to the AMD battle arena, apparently – and it might just be arriving soon.

    Read More
  • Millions more dating site members have details leaked online

    ShinyHunters claims to have leaked details of more than 2.28 million MeetMindful members.

    Read More
  • New ransomware law would force victims to admit to ransom payouts

    A new law has been proposed in the United States that would place new obligations on the shoulders of ransomware victims.

    Submitted by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Deborah Ross, the Ransomware Disclosure Act would require businesses to disclose any ransom payments within 48 hours of the transaction.

    If the proposal is turned into law, all ransomware victims “engaged in interstate commerce” will have to provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the ransom payment sum, the currency and any information they might know about the attackers.

    The act does not require all ransomware victims to engage with the DHS, however, only those who choose to concede to demands.

    The ransomware dilemma

    The main dilemma for every ransomware victim is to pay or not to pay. Often, the fastest way to recover from a ransomware attack is to give in to demands, but there is no guarantee systems will be restored and data returned as promised, and paying ransom fees only incentivizes further attacks.

    One the other hand, businesses that choose not to engage with criminals face significant losses as a result of downtime, as well as reputational damage if the attacker loses patience and publishes their data online.

    According to Senator Warren, the Ransomware Disclosure Act is designed to give the DHS the intelligence it needs to unpick this catch-22 and disrupt the economics of ransomware.

    “Ransomware attacks are skyrocketing, yet we lack critical data to go after cybercriminals. [The bill] would set disclosure requirements when ransoms are paid and allow us to learn how much money cybercriminals are siphoning from American entities to finance criminal enterprises - and help us go after them,” said Warren.

    Congresswoman Ross also expressed concerns about the scale and severity of the ransomware threat, and emphasized the importance of collaboration between private enterprise and the government in tackling the issue.

    “Unfortunately, because victims are not required to report attacks or payments to federal authorities, we lack the critical data necessary to understand these cybercriminal enterprises and counter these intrusions. The data this legislation provides will ensure both the federal government and private sector are equipped to combat the threats that cybercriminals pose to our nation,” she said.

    Via ZDNet

    Read More

Find Out More About Us

Want to hire best people for your project? Look no further you came to the right place!

Contact Us