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The increasingly automated workforce, driven by the sophistication of AI and robotics, put us in a unique moment in history of great promise as well as great peril. What has been predicted for a century is coming to pass, with around 5 million jobs expected to be displaced or disrupted in Australia alone by AI and robotics over the next 10-15 years.  The world has the potential to connect billions more people to digital networks, dramatically improve the efficiency of organizations and even manage assets in ways that can help regenerate the natural environment, potentially undoing the damage of previous industrial revolutions. At the same time, this disruption threatens to increase income inequality, fragment societies, and create new security concerns. In view of the challenges arising from these changes there is a clear need to develop new sociological, ethical, legal and scientific knowledge on automation and its impacts on employment, education, law and governance.

The prospect of a post-work society, or at least an increased share of structural unemployment, raises questions not faced since the upheaval of the industrial revolution, with perhaps even more dramatic consequences. Professor Greg Marston, Professor Tim Mehigan and Professor Paula McDonald are focused on the future of work and inequality and disadvantage and are uniquely positioned to address this technological watershed.



Image of Professor Greg MarstonProfessor Greg Marston

Greg Marston is Professor and Head of School of Social Sciences at UQ. He has been researching unemployment, poverty and policy solutions to social disadvantage over many years. He has conducted various research studies into how Information and Communication Technologies have changed the face of social service delivery in a variety of human service fields. He is currently conducting research into algorithms and Centrelink decision making. He is interested in promoting policy solutions to ensure we harness the benefits of automation and AI for society as a whole. He is active in universal basic income policy debates as one possible way to successfully navigate a world where paid work is fast becoming a less reliable source of income and belonging.


Image of Tim MehiganProfessor Tim Mehigan

Tim Mehigan is Professor of German and Deputy Head of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at UQ. He is widely published on German and European literature and thought, with particular interests in the paradigm shift that occurred in culture and philosophy in the European world around 1800. He has also devoted attention to a second major shift which occurred around 1900 when the science of probability became a dominant factor in social and cultural thought. Among the consequences of this second shift was the advent of automation in the applied sciences. As this historical backstory suggests, automation came to us largely unencumbered by an ethical discussion about its social impact. Tim's interest now is to ask how ethics today can take account of automation and help us direct decisions we make about its further deployment in our rapidly technologizing global society.


Image of Professor McDonaldProfessor Paula McDonald

Paula McDonald is Professor of Work and Organisation and Director of the Work/Industry Research Program in the QUT Business School. Paula’s research addresses the profound social implications arising from a globalised, ‘collaborative’ economy. Her work spans topics including education to work transitions; public/private boundaries; digital platform work; social media in employment; and precarious and vulnerable workers. Paula has published over 100 scholarly outputs and her work has actively shaped public debate through extensive media engagement and invited seminars to research end-users. She is a registered psychologist and a senior fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy.


About Global Leadership Series

The Global Leadership Series (GLS) is a lively program of events for alumni and community members. Join us for lectures and discussions with the best of the best UQ-related speakers on matters that impact your community and shape your ideas of the world.

The series is an opportunity for you to engage with great minds on global matters, participate in thought-provoking discussions and network with UQ alumni and community members. All alumni, parents, community members and friends are welcome to attend the Global Leadership Series events.

Listen to podcasts of previous GLS events click here


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