Short Report to the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) on ‘Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of Employment’ Workshop (2 -3 August 2016)
Prepared by Professor Anthony Elliott and Dr. Eric L. Hsu
From the 2nd to the 3rd of August 2016, the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia (UniSA) hosted a Workshop titled, ‘Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of Employment’, which was organized by ASSA Fellows, Prof. Anthony Elliott (UniSA) and Prof. Bob Holton (UniSA), and by Dr. Thomas Birtchnell (University of Wollongong). The aim of the Workshop was to explore the social implications of robotics and artificial intelligence on work, employment, and other social realms.
Format and activities
The two-day Workshop commenced on the 2nd of August with keynote presentation delivered by ASSA Fellow, Prof. Judy Wajcman. This was followed by 2 panel discussions on ‘Robotics, Social Interaction, and Life on the Move’; and on ‘Robotics, AI, and Employment’. As part of the ASSA workshop scheme, a dinner was held for the visiting delegates on the first night of the event at Citi Zen restaurant (401 King William Street, Adelaide SA 5000). The second day of the workshop on the 3rd of August had two panel discussions on ‘New Futures, New Skills?’ and on ‘Robotic Futures: Individuals, Communities, and Societies’.
There were 4 ASSA Fellows in attendance at the Workshop: Prof. Anthony Elliott (Sociology); Prof. Russell Lansbury (Sydney); Prof. Judy Wajcman (LSE); Prof. Mike Innes (ACAP).
Other Workshop participants included: Dr Kristin Alford (University of South Australia); Dr Thomas Birtchnell (University of Wollongong); Dr David Bissell, (Australian National University); Dr Ross Boyd (University of South Australia); Mr Andrew Brough (Foundation for Young Australians); Dr Angela Daly (Queensland University of Technology); Professor Chris Gibson (University of Wollongong); Professor Ross Harley (University of New South Wales); Dr Eric L. Hsu (University of South Australia); Professor Susan Luckman (University of South Australia); Professor Alistair Rainnie(Queensland University of Technology); Professor Rob Sparrow (Monash University); Associate Professor Mari Velonaki (University of New South Wales)
Disciplines represented were: Sociology; Legal Studies; Creative Arts; Cultural Geography; Psychology; Labour Economics, Urban Studies; Cultural Studies; Social Robotics; and Foresight Studies.
Workshop co-organizer and ASSA Fellow, Prof. Bob Holton (UniSA), was expected to participate but needed to pull out due to personal commitments.
Future directions and dissemination of results
Findings emerging out of the Workshop will be disseminated to the general public through an article pitched at The Conversation. Prof. Elliott and Dr. Hsu will lead this effort, with assistance from Ms. Kimberley Harrison.
A consensus view was that the bringing together of disciplinary perspectives was a very novel and fruitful way of expanding research capacity in the social scientific study of robotics in Australia. It was suggested that the Workshop co-organizers consider developing a larger event, such as a symposium or conference that would showcase international and national research on the topic of robotics and artificial intelligence.
The digested analysis report of workshop proceedings is provided in the Quick Information box above.