As companies increasingly incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) technology into their workflow, they introduce a variety of significant social policy concerns. The AI dehumanization of the American workforce threatens the very framework of the nation’s economy and endangers the existence of the already dwindling middle class while introducing the potential for discrimination in employment decisions. Other perils include sudden mass layoffs due to job automation, the misuse of customer and employee private data and the creation of “deepfake” media content that may be used to disseminate false information.
The AFL-CIO Equity Index Funds are submitting innovative new shareholder proposals on AI technology to various entertainment companies, including Apple, Comcast, Disney, Netflix and Warner Brothers Discovery. The shareholder proposal urges the entertainment companies to publish an AI transparency report on whether they have adopted any ethical guidelines to protect workers, customers and the public from harms related to the use of AI.
As shown by the AFL-CIO’s 2023 Executive Paywatch website, large corporations are rushing to adopt AI technology. In the entertainment industry, this technology can be used to create literary material and replace human performances. The shareholder proposal notes that “issuing an AI transparency report is particularly important for companies such as ours in the entertainment industry that create artistic works that are the basis for our shared culture.”
The need to provide AI protections for entertainment industry writers and performers has been a major issue in the Hollywood strikes this year. Through their strike, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has won important new worker protections for use of AI by entertainment companies. However, SAG-AFTRA performers are still on strike for a fair contract to require informed consent and fair compensation when AI is used to create or modify a performance.
The AFL-CIO Equity Index Funds are a collective investment trust for union members’ pension plans that have more than $12 billion in assets under management. Each year, the AFL-CIO Equity Index Funds submit shareholder proposals to encourage the adoption of a variety of responsible business practices. The AI transparency report shareholder proposals are expected to go to a vote at each entertainment company’s annual shareholder meeting next year.