The impact of AI on the future of work
There is no denying that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will change the world of work. In the report "The Future of Work: Augmentation or Stunting?" philosopher Karim Jebari and Markus Furendal, a political scientist at Stockholm University, highlight the potential consequences of this technological shift.
A scenario called "labor replacement" involves the replacement of human workers with machines. Through the industrial revolution, we have seen this scenario play out in terms of other technologies. In the discussion around AI, issues of widespread unemployment are raised. This leads to Labor replacement often being presented as the negative alternative to the "labor enabling" scenario, which entails human-machine collaboration that leads to improved productivity.
Furendal and Jebari mean that the labor enabling scenario can lead to both positive and negative consequences for future workers. They suggest that labor enabling can be divided in two different scenarios with varying effects on human well-being in the workplace:
- "Human augmentation" means that AI is used to achieve higher levels of productivity whilst also improving the workers’ well-being.
- "Human stunting" results in increased productivity while the workers’ physical and mental health is compromised. Alternatively, that that there is an infraction on their autonomy, dignity or personal integrity.
The article emphasizes the need for further empirical research to understand the real-world consequences of AI integration in workplaces. In addition, the authors emphasize the role of political institutions, such as unions, in shaping the future of work.