The way we work, and our societies more broadly, are undergoing fundamental transformations in a context of globalisation, demographic changes, and the rapid advance of technologies.
This Opinion by the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) responds to a request by the European Commission to examine issues surrounding the future of work and its societal, political and technological effects. The report traces the trends shaping the new landscape of work: from the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs, and new ways of working in the gig economy, to the use of smart tools and data to recruit and track workers. It assesses the degree to which current governance frameworks are fit for purpose and analyses the ethical implications for individuals and societies. The report finds that while digital technologies create value and bring efficiency gains, evidence indicates increasing hardship for many and a widening inequality gap. It warns that new forms of work bring unparalleled flexibility but also precarity. In order to safeguard European values of human dignity, solidarity and justice, the EGE calls for a shift of focus and a bold re-thinking of the existing social contract.
Rather than placing the overwhelming responsibility on individual upskilling, the EU should embark on a societal upskilling, giving renewed consideration to the institutions and economic, political, and social frameworks that shape the welfare of people and societies.