Future of work, future of society
Transformations of work – and in particular, the role that new technologies play in this process – are often seen as one of the key challenges of our societies. Technologies affect where we work, how we work, how we are compensated, and whether and how we are employed. Next to globalisation and demographic and environmental changes, the increasing use of advanced technologies – including robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and the automation of tasks previously done by humans – is typically portrayed as the main reason for the transformation of work. On the basis of our engagement with this topic across academic disciplines, contexts of practice, and national borders, we are convinced that shaping the future of work in our societies requires us to look at the nature and function of work. We have a collective commitment to ensure that everyone can lead a decent life. If there is ‘not enough’ paid work for everybody to afford a decent life through their earnings, then the solution cannot be – as often suggested – to ‘up-skill’ individuals so that they can better compete on the labour market. The solution, instead, needs to include a process of societal up-skilling, understood as a collective duty and commitment to find solutions to ensure dignified livelihoods for all people, whether or not they are in paid employment. Thus, this Opinion is ultimately about the future of our societies based on European values of dignity, freedom, autonomy, privacy, social equality and solidarity.