Artificial intelligence (AI) brings opportunities and uncertainties for the future of work, and there is currently a widely acknowledged digital skills gap in the UK. Enabling and upskilling the workforce to take full advantage of AI will be vital in both a post-Brexit and post-COVID-19 world. However, there remains little consensus on the ways that AI could or should intersect with work, or the place of AI in the wider political, economic and social discourse. Likewise, questions remain as to how government will be able to support the investment in lifelong skills and training that will be required to shape AI for the benefit of all. AI is only one of the factors that will cause major changes in the nature of work over the coming decades, and it is not the first time that work has undergone a transformation related to technology. For example, changes due to AI will sit alongside changes related to climate change, as well as the immediate impacts of COVID-19 and the UK exiting the EU. The role of AI should be considered in this wider context of overlapping, interdependent factors in order to ensure an equitable transformation.
This collaboration between UCL and the British Academy seeks to address critical questions for policy, business, practitioners and society on the ways in which AI could and should impact the future quality and equity of work in the UK, with a particular focus on England and Wales. The project will seek to broaden the debate surrounding the interactions of AI and work including on equality in work (with particular regard to racial equality), assessing the impacts at a range of scales (both geographically and across industry sectors), engaging those with little interest in technology or who feel disenfranchised, and determining what "good work" looks like.