The increasingly automated workforce, driven by the sophistication of AI and robotics, put us in a unique moment in history of great promise as well as great peril. What has been predicted for a century is coming to pass, with around 5 million jobs expected to be displaced or disrupted in Australia alone by AI and robotics over the next 10-15 years. The world has the potential to connect billions more people to digital networks, dramatically improve the efficiency of organizations and even manage assets in ways that can help regenerate the natural environment, potentially undoing the damage of previous industrial revolutions. At the same time, this disruption threatens to increase income inequality, fragment societies, and create new security concerns. In view of the challenges arising from these changes there is a clear need to develop new sociological, ethical, legal and scientific knowledge on automation and its impacts on employment, education, law and governance.
The prospect of a post-work society, or at least an increased share of structural unemployment, raises questions not faced since the upheaval of the industrial revolution, with perhaps even more dramatic consequences. Professor Greg Marston and Professor Mark Western are focused on the future of work and inequality and disadvantage and are uniquely positioned to address this technological watershed.
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