Workers in transition through automation, digitalization and robotization of work (AUTOWORK)

The primary goal of AUTOWORK is to generate new knowledge and solutions to societal challenges arising from the automation, digitalization and robotization of work-life, in relation to inclusion and meaningfulness. The Australian and Norweigan research teams will map trajectories towards a meaningful future work-life, for workers using innovative ethnographic and future scenario methods that focus on workers’ practices and experiences.

Work – and the ability to work – defines our human nature. The concept of homo faber – the working/crafting human – conceptualises work as a meaningful and expressive activity and therefore more than simply a means to survive.

We are now at a point in time when digital technologies such as AI are changing societies and work-life. Increasingly advanced, complex and intelligent machines prove capable of performing work previously mastered by humans alone. The effects and implications of this are not yet known, especially on the micro level for individual workers – and macro societal level. Whether humans are replaced by machines, find themselves working alongside them, or working within machine-controlled systems, automation radically transforms working life, the role of workers, the labour market and society at large. How can future work-life provide meaningful, sustainable and inclusive places for human workers?

"Understanding the Future of Work is fundamental to how we can imagine an inclusive and meaningful world. This is now all the more important in the light of the changing landscape of work brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. This project will reveal how the workers and industries that underpin our future comfort, health and wellbeing can best embrace emerging technologies involved in the automation and robotization of work"

Professor Sarah Pink, Director of the Emerging Technologies Research Lab

AUTOWORK will explore the transformation of work, and trajectories towards future work-life, across three sectors which will be particularly impacted by automation: building; sales and service; and healthcare sector. Together, these sectors employ the majority of the modern workforce internationally.

AUTOWORK will investigate the implications of this transformation in Norway and comparatively in Australia which, alongside Norway, has one of the most specialized, highest paid, and digital workforces in the world. However, in Norway 50% of all workers are trade union members vs. 15% in Australia. Australia provides a useful comparison case because, like Norway, it is positioned to become an early adopter of automated systems, given its relative affluence and developed technological infrastructure. At the same time, it has a contrasting political and work climate, with a weaker social safety net, strong tendencies toward increasing privatization of social and health services, and a significantly less unionized workforce.

The primary goal of AUTOWORK is to generate new knowledge and solutions to societal challenges arising from the automation, digitalization and robotization of work-life, in relation to inclusion and meaningfulness. We will map trajectories towards a meaningful future work-life, for workers using innovative ethnographic and future scenario methods that focus on workers’ practices and experiences.


Researchers:

Håkon Fyhn NTNU Social Research, Lars Andersen NTNU Social Research, Gunhild Tøndel NTNU Social Research, Roger Andre Søraa, NTNU Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture (KULT), Margrethe Aune, NTNU Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture (KULT), Thomas Berker NTNU Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture (KULT), Artur Serrano NTNU Department of Neuroscience (INB) Eric Monteiro NTNU Department of Computer Science (IDI), Sarah Pink, Debora Lanzeni, Aneta Podkalicka,, Mark Andrejevic, (Monash University).

This project is across the faculties of Art, Design and Architecture; Information Technology and Arts.


Contact: Sarah Pink

Email: sarah.pink@monash.edu