Will robots take our jobs? Should everyone get a basic income, whether they have a job or not? Can microchips help save the world?
They’re huge questions about the very nature of our society in the years ahead. And they will all be discussed when Culture Liverpool’s Future World of Work season becomes a key strand at the International Business Festival, which returns to Liverpool this month.
Despite apocalyptic headlines about automation wiping out half our jobs within a decade, Anthony Behan of IBM’s Watson IoT Division will open the season of talks on June 12 by presenting a more optimistic view of humans harnessing the power of technology.
As part of the season, Culture Liverpool has - in partnership with Liverpool’s Foundation for Art and Creative Technology - commissioned artists will create a ‘series of provocations’ addressing the question: "With AI set to take up to half of human jobs in the next two decades, what does that mean for society?"
Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey will address the topic when talking up Labour’s response to the government’s Industrial Strategy, which focuses on Richer Britain, Richer Lives, on June 13.
London’s Big Innovation Centre chief Prof Birgitte Andersen will discuss issues around data on June 19. She’ll argue that while data is crucial to the success of AI, addressing its potential for abuse is paramount.
On June 20, Markus Kanerva, architect of Finland’s Universal Basic Income, will talk about the findings from an experiment which saw 2,000 unemployed citizens given €560 (£475) a month for two years with no obligation to seek or accept unemployment.
Philip Jennings, founder of UNI Global – the world’s biggest union which holds its fifth World Congress alongside the Festival, will address the issue of automation, calling for ethical AI and increased social justice in a session titled Advancing Humans on June 21.
On the Festival’s Health & Life Sciences Day (June 26), the newly appointed Chief Scientific Adviser Dr Patrick Vallance will give his first public speech, looking to the scientific challenges that lie ahead for both government and business.
On June 27, a panel will examine the workplaces of tomorrow, before Simon Segars – the man behind British processor giant ARM Holdings – talks about the power of microchips to do good, creating an ecosystem to power the future and the importance of leadership.
The final day (June 28) will feature Cherie Blair in conversation with former Southbank Centre artistic director Jude Kelly about the importance of gender equality and empowering female entrepreneurs.
For further details, see the Future World of Work sessions via the full programme.