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Data Subjects, AI and the Futures of Work

DE 2021

The buzzword of the digital revolution – and artificial intelligence (AI) in particular – is accompanied by a controversial debate about the future of work, dominated by two positions. While one sees the interaction between humans and AI as offering a wide range of opportunities for upgrading and improving the quality of work, the other predicts massive upheavals on the labour market and an extensive replacement of workers. Whereas positive future scenarios promise the emergence of new economies with new professions and potential for development, gloomy prophecies on the other hand predict that half of the jobs in the Western world might disappear by 2030, only this time with highly qualified and academic jobs also being up for grabs – unlike previous technological revolutions.

The integration of AI systems into work environments will take place technically within the central structure of organisations, with human resources on the one side and relatively routine bureaucratic or manual tasks on the other. Semi-automation is similar to other processes of objectifying operations, where questions of power, accountability and morality are overlooked too often. What is also overlooked is that perceived products, tools or applications in the context of inquiry, whether they can technically be considered AI technology or not, require both the production of data sets and the production of data subjects.

In this discussion, Phoebe V. Moore – Associate Professor of the Futures of Work at the University of Leicester – will talk about the question of power in the employment relationship when AI seemingly becomes its own actor, and discuss with Maike Pricelius – expert in digitalisation and worker participation 4.0 – what this will mean for the future of work.

Lecture with Phoebe V. Moore (UK), followed by a response by Maike Pricelius (DE), moderated by Alexandra Keiner (DE)

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