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Igor Shoikhedbrod, Re-Politicizing the Future of Work

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Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto

Larkin Building, 2nd Floor

15 Devonshire Place

Toronto, ON M5S 1H8

Canada

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Igor Shoikhedbrod joins the Centre to discuss "Re-Politicizing the Future of Work in the Age of Automation and AI "

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Re-Politicizing the Future of Work in the Age of Automation and AI

The spectre of generalized automation and the unprecedented pace of developments in intelligent machine learning have brought into question the future of work and its normative value. The issues raised by ongoing debates about the future of work are undeniably interdisciplinary in scope—ranging from considerations in moral and political philosophy to economics, labour studies, and even futurism. With this interdisciplinary terrain in mind, the talk will take as its point of departure the ethical implications of automation and AI through a critical dialogue between normative political philosophy and political economy. I will begin by outlining the widespread empirical evidence suggesting that automation and AI will radically transform the ways that human beings conceive, perform, and grapple with work. Such empirical considerations, which include prognoses of mass unemployment, under-employment, as well as utopian and dystopian renditions of complete automation, necessitate a prior discussion about the normative value that is assigned to work and working. Indeed, even the most pragmatic policy questions about whether automation should be welcomed or discouraged are predicated upon the value or disvalue that commentators assign to work. I will argue that the meaning of work should be fundamentally rethought and contested in the age of automation and AI. Rather than calling for the abolition of work (i.e. post-work) and resigning to an abstractly-conceived universal basic income, priority should be given to reducing necessary labour-time through regulatory constraints that are wrested politically. Such a reduction in necessary labour-time should coincide with a diversification of the range of skills and activities that are performed by human beings in the age of automation and AI. However, these goals can only be achieved by revaluing and re-politicizing the future of work.

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Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto

Larkin Building, 2nd Floor

15 Devonshire Place

Toronto, ON M5S 1H8

Canada

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