Force Conference Session 1
Dr. Alexandros Selimis, Member of the Academic Committee of the FORCE project, opened the session presenting the key-issues examined in the FORCE working/background paper: The 4ir: key-issues in the post-pandemic era. The core aim of this session was to present and critically discuss the key issues regarding the multiple opportunities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the post-pandemic era.
Prof. Birgit Mahnkopf (Professor of European Politics at the Berlin School of Economics and Law Berlin) discussed what she understands as the digitalization hype – a new wave of automation based on algorithms and digital technologies and concentrated on the impact of computerisation, robotisation, algorithmic control and AI on industrial work (in Europe). She claimed that 4IR establishes a “new standard of work”, through work on demand. She then focused on “digital labour platforms” approaching their positive and negative aspects both from the perspective of employers and employees.
Prof. Birgit Mahnkopf highlighted the impact of geopolitical conflicts of data-based societies, while considering data as the “fuel of the future” that need huge amount of energy. She claimed that digitalisation and AI-based autonomous systems will be the backbone of the coming “hyper-wars” and the we need to focus on the numerous conflicts and trade-offs linked to the 4IR, for which, unfortunately, there can be no win-win solutions.
The session continued with the presentation by Prof. Ricardo Vinuesa (Associate Professor KTH Engineering Mechanics, Stockholm) whose research aim is to answer the question: “Is there published evidence of AI acting as an enabler or an inhibitor for each of the SDG targets?” He clarified that we needed to assemble a multi-disciplinary team spanning the wide range of required areas of knowledge. He maintained that on the positive side AI-enabled technology which may help overcome current barriers, while on the negative side uneven opportunities to access AI resources may end up increasing inequalities.
Prof. Vinuesa claimed that AI is already affecting everyone´s lives both positively (e.g. smart grids and cities, e-health) and negatively (e.g.) ´big nudging´, citizens scores, etc. Technology however evolves faster than citizens and governments. In parallel, there exist large research gaps to manage the transition and there is a worrying vulnerability of infrastructures. Thus, he concluded that substantial work is needed for overcoming AI gaps in transparency, safety and ethical standards.