ICRES 2018

Revisiting the Concept of [Work] in a Hybrid World: Societal and Ethical Challenges

In the age of embodied and non-embodied artificial intelligence and autonomous machines, the present paper revisits the concept of [work] conceived as an inherently human endowment. The capacity for work is an essential human attribute that, as it happens with all the attributes that define distinct life forms, has evolved all along human developmental history, as a consequence of its adapting and responding to distinct environmental physical conditions, to distinct modes of production and consequently to differentiated social and cultural contexts. Being an essential specific attribute of this social species and not the result of a temporary condition or state, [work], due to its generative power, is responsible for guaranteeing human “being”, survival and evolution by creating the means capable of responding to all kinds of environmental prompts, of guaranteeing the sustainability of communities, the evolution of distinct socio-economic frameworks, the emergence of rudimentary or elaborated tools, the arise of technological development and the production of intelligent technological artifacts, the creation of culture and art. Contemporary societies are becoming progressively more and more hybrid environments. This means environments where the physical is permeated by the digital, where human interaction is mediated by advanced forms of communication, where non-embodied and very soon also embodied forms of artificial intelligence coexist with natural intelligence where ultimately [work], in multiple contexts and domains, is being replaced by task performing by artificial autonomous systems. This present context and its predictable development in the near future demand the emergence of a deep awareness on the part of policy makers and from society in general so that technology remains a tool for enhancing [work], respecting its fundamental twofold dimension as: (i) a human generative endowment for the creation and transformation of reality (ii) a means for every human being to effectively be a part of this reality in all their dignity.