Catelijne Muller addresses European Parliament’s AIDA Committee on AI & Labour

In a webinar organised by the S&D Group of the European Parliament for the special Committee on AI (AIDA), Catelijne Muller joined a panel on the impact of AI on work.

She joined speakers from the European Commission, the ETUC, Eurofound and KU Leuven and delved into the four elements in which workers are currently already impacted by AI:

  • When working with AI
  • When working for AI
  • When working ‘under’ AI
  • When working thanks to AI

She paid specific attention to the surge in AI applications in the workplace due to the Corona pandemic, referring to ALLAI’s latest project: Responsible AI & Corona.

She concluded with a call for caution as regards the anticipated Vaccine passport:

“Vaccine passports have been around for ages. We in the NL have a small yellow book, the size of a passport, that they stamp when you get a vaccine. You take it with you when you travel. A digital version of my yellow book has no AI in it. But I do think we should be on guard as to what it could venture into, which is a health risk passport.

At the G20 summit, China pushed for worldwide adoption of its “COVID QR-code system” in the fight against Corona. The Chinese COVID QR-code system is basically a health risk prediction system that renders a green, yellow or red QR code for each citizen on their smartphone. The colors represent the level of ‘Corona risk’ the citizen poses at any moment, based health records, but also on travel history, social behaviour, online behaviour etc. Under normal circumstances the idea of color coding an entire population based on their health risk would be categorically rejected. In fact, the High Level Expert Group on AI in its Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI already classified these types of applications as raising ‘critical concerns’ because ‘(…) Any form of citizen scoring can lead to the loss of […] autonomy and endanger the principle of non-discrimination’.

Make no mistake, this is citizen scoring. And I want to urge you to, in your discussions and deliberations on a potential digital vaccine passport, be on guard for this kind of ‘function creep’ into a simple digital yellow book. Be on guard for what it could potentially become. Digital technology can contribute to solving grand problems, but it seldom is the solution to a certain problem. Often times, a far less invasive solution, is right in front of our eyes.”

See also the op-ed on this topic by Virginia and Catelijne.