Chair Hickenlooper: “Many people think of movies where AI replaces humanity. I think the reality in many cases will be that AI will work hand in hand with the workforce – the people actually doing the work.”
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper chaired a hearing of the Senate Help, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee’s Subcommittee on Employment and Workforce Safety to explore how we can best ensure that workers are trained and empowered for the widespread integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workplace and to discuss helpful ways for companies and workers to prepare to leverage AI in their workflows.
“And that’s maybe the biggest point we can make today. While many people think of the movies where AI replaces humanity, the reality is that, in many cases, AI will work hand in hand with American workers,” said Hickenlooper, Chair of the Senate Help, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee’s Subcommittee on Employment and Workforce Safety in the hearing. “In some ways, it’s a tale as old as time. We don’t call plumbers in because a wrench is hard to use, we call them in because they’ve mastered just how to use that wrench to solve the problem. Bob Dylan and I both play the banjo, but even if we pluck the same notes, you’d be missing the magic that Dylan brings. So, whatever the tools are, it’s still the workers using them – and their skills, their training – is what will make the difference.”
Hickenlooper was joined by Ranking Member Mike Braun, and witnesses Josh Lannin, Vice President of Productivity Technologies at Workday based in Boulder, Mary Kate Morley Ryan, Managing Director of Talent and Organization at Accenture, Tyrance Billingsley, Founder and Executive Director of Black Tech Street, and Bradford Newman, Partner/Leader of the AI Practice at Baker & McKenzie LLP and Co-Chairman of the AI Subcommittee for the American Bar Association.
During the hearing, Hickenlooper and other senators asked questions about how American workers can better utilize and leverage AI technologies in their workplace and positions to further their own skills and advance American innovation, how we can incorporate AI literacy training for American workers in small businesses and rural communities, and how to balance advances in AI with human critical analytic decision making.
“This technology has the potential to positively alter the way that literally ALL of us work. But I think we have an imperative to do it right. To make sure we’re not making missteps as we move so rapidly in this direction. I think working together and including workers in that conversation is essential,” said Hickenlooper during the hearing. “We’ve got to find smart workforce development opportunities around AI that are inclusive, that lift up the skills of all our workers, and to make sure that everyone thrives, that everyone has the opportunity to create their own better future and their own career.”
Last month, Hickenlooper also chaired a Senate hearing on AI, specifically on how to increase transparency in AI technologies for consumers, identify uses of AI that are beneficial or “high risk,” and evaluate the potential impact of policies designed to increase trustworthiness in the transformational technology.