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Sandvig and Grill: Regulators need to protect worker’s privacy

Featured on Wired. Christian Sandvig, professor of information. Gabriel Grill, doctoral candidate. Military AI’s Next Frontier: Your Work Computer.

Friday, 06/23/2023

Is your boss spying on you? More and more, companies are pitching surveillance software tools to employers, putting worker privacy at risk. 

For Wired, University of Michigan School of Information professor Christian Sandvig and doctoral candidate Gabriel Grill talk about why the use of these tools is “fundamentally incompatible with a democracy” and how regulators can step up

The corporations purveying these services are thriving in a context of obscurity and regulatory neglect,” Sandvig and Grill write. “We need specific rules that state which uses of AI, data sources, and methods are permissible and under which conditions they can be used.” 

Sandvig and Grill say the companies selling these services to corporations are turning to rapidly advancing military-grade AI to spy on American workers. The result? Union busting, problematic hiring practices and faulty assumptions about workers. 

“Military-grade AI was intended to target our national enemies, nominally under the control of elected democratic governments, with safeguards in place to prevent its use against citizens,” Sandvig and Grill say. “We should all be concerned by the idea that the same systems can now be widely deployable by anyone able to pay.” 

Sandvig is an expert on algorithmic justice, information policy and ethics. He co-directs the Center for Ethics, Society, and Computing (ESC). Gabriel Grill is a doctoral candidate at UMSI and is part of ESC. Grill’s research focuses on the role of technology in culture and labor. 


Read “Military AI’s Next Frontier: Your Work Computer” on Wired. 

Learn more about research by Christian Sandvig and Gabriel Grill. 

Apply to UMSI’s PhD in Information program.