A question I have been asked a lot by New Yorkers is: Is AI threat or not a threat to the future of work and work environment in New York city?
My answer has always been in two ways. One the city, the other, the people — or those voters known as New Yorkers.
Is AI a threat to the city? No. In my opinion, I think:
- It is a welcomed advancement for the city.
- It is a way to improve services it currently provides to New Yorkers at a cheaper and less cumbersome cost.
- It is a way to make the city more efficient, and a way to reduce human foot print on the city’s public and private space.
See, like an open architecture, everything fits into the city first as an entity first, then as a physical space second. The city doesn’t need to prepare itself for AI and cannot prepare itself for AI. But we as New Yorkers, can.
And the best way we can is through a knowledge that is open and adaptive to the new. That way, we could be self sufficient to cater for our fear of what is to come — if AI makes us and a lot of others less reliant of the city for jobs, or on well known and trusted means for making ends meet.
I believe AI will lead to a lot of small businesses, many of whom will not only be working remotely, they will be sourcing materials directly from primary sources. For example,
- Why will a New Yorker in a couple of months from now go to a bodega or a local supermarket for fresh vegetables, tomatoes and oranges when he or she can order it fresh and directly from a tree on the farmers farm and had it shipped directly to any given address in the city?
- Why will a New Yorker go to the fish market when it is possible to cue up to buy a fresh catch directly off the fisherman’s boat and had it shipped to any given address in the city?
- Why go to a local butcher for a steak when the abattoir could easily ship to buyer via Uber, then go back to work?
That is why I am setting up “treats” a web space that is capable of doing to bedegas and supermarkets what Uber did to Yellow cabs.
Now in face of all these, AI could be a threat to new Yorkers if we are not prepared to address changes in a work place or a work environment that could be out home or anywhere on our phone. if we are not ready to address and to fine-tune the nature of our benefits and rights — workers to meet the new.
There will be unions, our bargaining rights will still be there, but a job for life might not be anymore, as well as familiar job titles. Almost everyone will have hobbies to turn into and issues like annual leave, pay increase, sick leave, lunch break, pension, 8 hour day, weekend work, health and safety, severance pay, unfair dismissal protection, and now maternity and paternity pay that we’ve talking about for the past few years will all have to be made to conform to the new.
Otherwise it is pointless saying, “my employer refused me the followings” What if that employer is an induced AI with no known emotion, and AI shrinks are still being schooled?
I hate to see New Yorkers and the next generation get mugged in a WiFi alley. That’s why I am running for Mayor so I could use the obligation of the city as written in the city’s charter to prepare New Yorkers for the future of work and work space, and set up a framework for the future of work place rights and union benefits.
Invest in training the new generation, and retraining the current so AI’s thinking logic and conduct in all facets of life could reflect not just getting things done, but our diversity. Why diversity? Well, going by NYPD record, AI as of today still have problems and flaws recognizing faces of young men of color but not of women of color.
Anyway, as an Independent candidate for mayor, City of New York, if I am to share my concerns about the future of unions in New York city, I’d be asking questions like:
- is policy, ideas and legislation enough to help unions weather the storm of changes being brewed up by advancing technology?
- will sit-in through events, actions or opportunities as we evolve with technology be the best course of action?
- would we rather keep on working on updates on labor laws, negotiations and disputes?
- or review labor education and apprentice program to match the new and prepare for the unknown?
Service economy, labor and the technical expertise that comes with it is what made our city what it is today. New York city prides itself on having more than the national average of union workers. Like we did to con con and rent laws review, time is now to plan ahead and review our collective bargaining rights in view of challenges posed by technology.
Abbey S. Laurel-Smith (SmithieForMayor NYC 2021)