AI in the workplace may be an unmitigated disaster

Sunira Chaudhri

Sunira Chaudhri

Toronto Employment Lawyer

Employers should implement a policy for employees to follow now to avoid disaster later.

This week I attended the Collision Conference in Toronto, a self-described gathering place for companies and people “redefining” the tech industry.


And the fastest growing tech conference in North America didn’t disappoint.


Hundreds of tech companies ranging from minnows to whales told aspirational stories of how their ideas would change the world.


There was one undeniable, unspoken theme of the event – artificial intelligence was virtually every company’s silent partner that would propel them into the stratosphere of success.


Many companies solely focused on hiring, retention and recruitment of employees.


Naturally, most of the companies I spoke to at Collision were excited to share how artificial intelligence is powering their product offerings. However, only one company I met with even acknowledged the confidential information issues inherent in the use of any artificial intelligence platform, and how they planned to address it.


Even Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, warned employees last week about employees’ use AI-powered chatbots, including the use of Google’s own product, Bard, a competitor to ChatGPT.


Alphabet Inc. advised employees not to enter the company’s confidential material into AI chatbots, citing employee policies that require employees to protect company confidential information.


Imagine, an employer warning its own employees of the risks of using its own product.


Artificial intelligence platforms, like ChatGPT and Bard, are easy to use. Everyday people can use Bard or ChatGPT to help draft an email, write a report, create an app, design a weight-loss plan or a trip around the world. The potential uses are endless.


The fact that Google’s parent company is calling for the governance of its own product suggests that every employer should immediately roll out an artificial intelligence policy in the workplace. My firm is now proactively drafting AI policies, offering them up to clients in anticipation of the employment law issues that are nipping at our collective heels.


In case you haven’t considered the ramifications to your workforce and culture by using artificial intelligence, consider the following:


Firstly, using artificial intelligence platforms leaves your company wide open to privacy breaches. AI platforms can leak your company’s private data to reviewers of the platform, or be integrated into the platform and distributed to other users. So, if you are using AI to organize important data, like a company pricing list, that information could be distributed to other users of the platform.


Secondly, using artificial intelligence platforms can lead to employee dishonesty or worse, time theft. It is only a matter of time (if it is not happening already) that employees use AI to perform substantive tasks. Not only could this be a breach of your company’s confidentiality rules, but it can add a layer of dishonesty and lack of transparency that is integral to any strong working relationship. Introduce clear parameters now.


Third, if your business is client-facing, clients will quickly have the power to discern work product that is AI generated. The value of your business declines when it uses widely available AI tools to do the heavy lifting.


Lastly, using artificial intelligence naturally pushes away the notion of investing in training and upgrading skills of employees. Using powerful AI will lead to the unmitigated atrophy of employee skills and development. This is particularly so for younger employees who have already had their career development and communication skills stunted by the pandemic.


I have been a busy lawyer for 12 years, and while my skills have sharpened year over year, I am still in the first third of what I hope to be a long career. I would hate for AI to rob me of the chance to grow.


Artificial intelligence governance is not just a tool employers can use to limit liability and protect corporate culture, it is probably the best business decision you can make to attract and retain your customers. Implement a policy for your employees to follow now to avoid disaster later.


Have a workplace issue? Maybe I can help! Email me at and your question may be featured in a future column.


The content of this article is general information only and is not legal advice.

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