Major fleets cannot be allowed to introduce AI into truck cabs

The transport industry has a long history of technological evolution, from horse-drawn carriages to modern electric trucks.

Yet, one development which could have potentially profound implications is the emergence and uptake of artificial intelligence (AI).

A federal parliamentary inquiry, led by Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke, is examining the rapid rise of automated decision-making and machine learning in the workplace.

Recent attempts by major road transport companies to introduce experimental cameras with AI capabilities into truck cabs, highlights why an inquiry like this is urgently needed.

Some systems continuously record video and audio of drivers to detect perceived risky behaviour. If their actions are deemed unacceptable, the technology will start issuing audio commands to ‘coach’ drivers on their driving habits.

The TWU strongly opposes the induction of such systems as they raise significant privacy concerns, infringe upon drivers’ rights and potentially cause distraction and emotional distress.

It threatens to create a culture of constant surveillance and micromanagement within the transport industry, fostering an environment of anxiety and distrust among drivers.

Such intrusive monitoring also undermines trust between employers and employees and creates a stressful working environment.

It disregards the professional judgment of experienced drivers, posing a distraction on the nation’s complex roads.

Moreover, in a time of critical skill and labour shortages in the road transport industry, introducing hyper-monitored workplaces may deter young workers from pursuing careers in the field.

Adding to this is the glaring lack of regulation protecting employees from the potentially adverse effects of AI technologies in the workplace.

The absence of adequate safeguards exacerbates the vulnerability of truck drivers and underscores the urgent need for robust regulatory frameworks to ensure the responsible and ethical implementation of AI in the transport industry.

The federal government needs to prioritise the well-being of workers over the rapid deployment of untested technologies.

It’s imperative any monitoring measures respect the privacy and autonomy of drivers while ensuring their safety on the road.

  • Richard Olsen is the TWU’s NSW/QLD and ACT branch secretary.

1 Comment

  1. Artificial intelligence is the main driver for the development and simplification of technological processes. Today, the latest AI ideas allow for accurate calculations of delivery costs, create a wide range of different capabilities that simplify the planning of logistics processes, and facilitate the autonomous performance of certain functions. This can be seen in the illustrative example of Automatischer-Vergleich Paketdienst von Shipstage https://shipstage.com/carrier-selection
    However, it is clear that excessive use of AI models creates an uncomfortable working environment for drivers, which can negatively affect their performance and psychological stability. Therefore, such innovations require careful analysis and consideration of the human factor.

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