Tell the White House to Limit AI-Driven Worker Surveillance

Melodi Dincer is a Legal Research Fellow at the Knowing Machines Research Project. The pandemic and its aftermath have intensified existing rifts over worker autonomy and control in the U.S. Especially as young adults enter a workforce shaped by decades-long wage stagnation, anemic unionization, and regular waves of mass layoffs, they are proving immune to the promises of “workism”—the belief that “work is not only necessary to economic production, but also the centerpiece of one’s identity and life’s purpose.” Attention-grabbing buzzwords like “the Great Resignation,” “quiet quitting,” and the “anti-work movement” attempt to capture a broader sense of turmoil in our relationship to work, boundaries, and living a meaningful life both in and beyond our jobs. Yet workism persists, with around 40% of workers seeing their jobs as central to their overall identities regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or age. While certain groups of workers—educated young men, high-earners, and recovering workaholics—are spending less time working than pre-pandemic, employers continue to project their “productivity paranoia” onto workers of all stripes. This has led to a sharp increase in surveillance technologies permeating the workplace. Searches for employee monitoring software increased by 75% in March 2020 compared with the 2019 monthly average, and now around 80% of employers use monitoring software to track employee performance and online activity. Today, technology is a critical factor in both what we do for work and how we do it. But while employers have been rapidly adopting new methods of AI-driven worker surveillance, this phenomenon is a…Tell the White House to Limit AI-Driven Worker Surveillance