A Framework for Exploring the Consequences of AI-Mediated Enterprise Knowledge Access and Identifying Risks to Workers

Organisations generate vast amounts of information, which has resulted in a long-term research effort into knowledge access systems for enterprise settings. Recent developments in artificial intelligence, in relation to large language models, are poised to have significant impact on knowledge access. This has the potential to shape the workplace and knowledge in new and unanticipated ways. Many risks can arise from the deployment of these types of AI systems, due to interactions between the technical system and organisational power dynamics.
This paper presents the Consequence-Mechanism-Risk framework to identify risks to workers from AI-mediated enterprise knowledge access systems. We have drawn on wide-ranging literature detailing risks to workers, and categorised risks as being to worker value, power, and wellbeing. The contribution of our framework is to additionally consider (i) the consequences of these systems that are of moral import: commodification, appropriation, concentration of power, and marginalisation, and (ii) the mechanisms, which represent how these consequences may take effect in the system. The mechanisms are a means of contextualising risk within specific system processes, which is critical for mitigation. This framework is aimed at helping practitioners involved in the design and deployment of AI-mediated knowledge access systems to consider the risks introduced to workers, identify the precise system mechanisms that introduce those risks and begin to approach mitigation. Future work could apply this framework to other technological systems to promote the protection of workers and other groups.