International Summit Holds Talks on the Future of Work, as Technology Threatens to Make Jobs Obsolete

13 March 2017

Technology experts, social scientists and government officials meet today (Monday 13 March) in London for an international summit on the future of work in a digital world. As advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) threaten to disrupt labour markets globally, the summit led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) will call on businesses and governments globally to urgently look at new ways to create and sustain decent jobs for all.

Technological advances from self-driving vehicles to automated manufacturing to algorithmic decision making are upending industries such as transportation, textiles, banking and insurance. According to research* 47 per cent of jobs in the US and 35 per cent in the UK are at risk of automation and prospects for workers in lower-income countries are predicted to be even worse.

Speakers and participants at the Digital Development Summit from organisations including Facebook and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD will discuss ideas for how businesses can create and sustain jobs and how governments could help enable and support decent work, including universal basic income, levying digital taxes and revamping education and training They will also consider the fact the expected job losses from technological advances stand to disproportionally impact women and the urgent need to ensure the risks and benefits of digital technology are considered in relation to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals Goal 8 ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’.   

Dr Becky Faith, Deputy Leader of Digital Development at IDS said:

“Too often trajectories of the future of work are treated as a pre-determined scenario in which technology decides the fate of millions of workers. Yet these are issues of politics and policy and we hope today’s Summit provides an opportunity to build a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing us all.”

The Digital Development Summit is organised by IDS in collaboration with the World Wide Web Foundation and Nesta is held at the Southbank Centre with over 120 people taking part. It is supported by the UK Department for International Development and the ESRC-DFID Impact Initiative.

Notes to Editors

  1. *Research by Frey and Osborne 2017 The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?  
  2. Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  3. The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is a leading global institution for development research, teaching and learning, and impact and communications, based at the University of Sussex.  Our vision is of equal and sustainable societies, locally and globally, where everyone can live secure, fulfilling lives free from poverty and injustice. We believe passionately that cutting-edge research, knowledge and evidence are crucial in shaping the changes needed for our broader vision to be realised, and to support people, societies and institutions to navigate the challenges ahead.  See www.ids.ac.uk  for more information.
  4. The Digital Development Summit is organised by the Institute of Development Studies in collaboration with the World Wide Web Foundation and Nesta with the support of the UK Department for International Development and the ESRC-DFID Impact Initiative.
  5. Summit Speakers include:
  • Anne Jellema (World Wide Web Foundation)
  • Sango Patekile Holomisa (Deputy Minister of Labour, South Africa)
  • Maggie Boden (University of Sussex)
  • Mamadou Biteye (Rockefeller Foundation)
  • Mark Graham (Oxford Internet Institute, ESRC-DFID grant holder)
  • Anna Byhovskaya (TUAC-OECD)
  • Kojo Boakye (Facebook)
  • Geoff Mulgan (Nesta)
  • Gina Porter (University of Durham, ESRC-DFID grant holder)
  • Ben Ramalingam (Institute of Development Studies)
  • Duncan Green (Oxfam)