AFT Resolution

Social Media, Artificial Intelligence and Generative Artificial Intelligence

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers is the home of the people who make a difference in other people’s lives—1.7 million educators and support personnel, healthcare workers and public employees who advocate for a better life for all, particularly for what our children and our communities need to thrive; and

WHEREAS, the advent of social media platforms, ChatGPT and similar technologies create both awe and apprehension due to their potential benefits and risks; and

WHEREAS, CEOs of the world’s leading artificial intelligence companies, along with hundreds of other AI scientists and experts released a statement saying, “Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war;”[1] and

WHEREAS, the AFT acknowledges the growing impact of social media and artificial intelligence (AI) on workplaces, healthcare and education; and

WHEREAS, many social media and advanced technology developers have prioritized profit over societal interests, allowing misinformation, political instability and negative impacts particularly on young users; and

WHEREAS, generative AI models like ChatGPT often overlook fair use of intellectual property rights, affecting our members; and

WHEREAS, current regulations fail to protect privacy, prevent commercialization of private information, and ensure safety for social media and AI users; and

WHEREAS, regulatory bodies struggle to keep up with rapid growth of social media and AI integration in workplaces, making unions the de facto bodies to establish AI usage guidelines; and

WHEREAS, creators of AI models cannot fully explain why their technologies generate false data or lack transparency in decision-making processes; and

WHEREAS, racial and cultural biases in AI programming in healthcare could detrimentally impact equitable care; and

WHEREAS, hasty deployment of these technologies could threaten various groups and the public; and

WHEREAS, the AFT condemns AI's use to undermine workers' collective bargaining rights, such as replacing workers with chatbots; and

WHEREAS, the implementation of these technologies requires extreme caution to prevent exacerbating biases, inequities and the digital divide; and

WHEREAS, social media, AI, generative AI and advanced computing are increasingly influential, necessitating a strong response; and

WHEREAS, some states and jurisdictions have begun to regulate social media and AI in terms of privacy, security and exploitation; and

WHEREAS, the European Union has enacted stringent privacy and security laws, indicating continuous updates are needed; and

WHEREAS, hundreds of school districts have sued social media companies, citing negative effects on children's mental health as outlined in the surgeon general’s advisory about effects of social media on youth mental health,[2] and educational achievement:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers calls for social media, AI and machine learning models to be developed and employed ethically, with developers held accountable for real-world harm and impacts; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT urges governments to swiftly develop, pass and implement strict regulations protecting privacy, security and well-being, and preventing misinformation and destructive behaviors; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT calls for social media and AI technologies to adhere to principles of equity, access and social accountability; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT challenges excessive dependency on social media and AI technologies; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT presses for social media and AI to be accessible to all and not perpetuate disparities; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT endorses social media platforms and AI technologies that integrate significant input from stakeholders in their creation and implementation; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT advocates for continuous research on the use of social media and AI in education and healthcare, and in developing guidelines for the use of social media and AI in primary and secondary education and in healthcare settings; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT recognizes the profound influence of social media and AI in society and education, and emphasizes the need for ethical and accountable development, strong regulations, worker protections, privacy safeguards, equity, transparency and inclusivity in the use of these technologies. The AFT will continue to advocate for responsible implementation and use of social media, AI and generative AI to ensure the well-being of workers, students, patients and society.

Adopted June 1, 2023