1.Which of these automation-related changes (e.g. mass unemployment; new digital jobs, AI at workplace (ethical and surveillance concerns); inadequate digital skills, poor working conditions) worry you the most? Why?
I would connect issues such as surveillance and poor working conditions and understand them, broadly speaking, to be about the power that workers have (or do not have) over their own lives and work. As technologies advance (and become more closed and harder to scrutinise) power moves even further away from the worker. The effect of this is that workers have less agency, are less able to organise, less able to make their voices heard and less able to be involved in decisions that affect them. This worries me the most.
2. Is a world without work possible?
In contemplating a world devoid of work, we tread a delicate balance between utopia and dystopia. The advent of the technologies we have read about as part of the pre-intensive promise to render most tasks obsolete, freeing humanity from the daily grind. Some would have us believe that machines will cater to our needs, leaving us unburdened by laborious work. Yet, this vision has complexities. Social institutions must evolve to accommodate this seismic shift long before it materializes. Long term thinking and planning of this sort is not part of our political discourse (see: https://www.nesta.org.uk/feature/minister-for-the-future/ ) While technology marches forward, those who work in service industries with low wages, lack of security and often precarious immigration status will likely still be needed, but will have the least say in how we organise the world going forward. A world without work beckons, but its realization demands foresight and collective political endeavour.
3. If you were given all the powers in the world, what changes would you like to see in the world of work?
This questions hinges on agency. How do we politically organise so that, as a society, we have the means to participate in the conversation about how we structure this new world of work. Expressed crudely, I would see a rather utopian world where workers are able to do jobs that are meaningful, fulfilling and appropriately remunerated. Given all the power in the world, I would want parity of esteem for all jobs; as jobs such as the caring professions are perhaps (in the short to medium terms at least) less affected by technological changes, I would want to see us value those jobs.
4. Complete this sentence: The future of work is…
meaningful, valued work (hopeful version)
one where workers are a commodity (pessimistic version)