Working Worlds of the Future – Results of the "Future Works" Project
8th October 2021 — In keynote speeches and short readings, the participants of the Karlsruhe conference were able to learn about the project results and contribute to various questions such as whether our work is becoming increasingly automated, or how work will be paid in the future. Other issues included how the economy and society will change in the wake of new social challenges or increasing mechanisation.
"The scenarios created for the working world of the future extend to the threshold of the 22nd century," explains Dr Claudio Zettel from DLR-PT. They show different options towards which the world of work in Germany can develop. "In the project scenario of a dystopian world of work, people are either exposed to heteronomy and coercion, or they live in a world dominated by automated work, in which they are displaced into niches such as outer space or the deep sea in search of livelihoods," says Zettel. Other scenarios outline a craft-dominated society where the frantic pace of the modern growth- and technology-centred world of work is overcome.
Back to the craft or no gainful employment?
An AI-assisted planned economy was also modelled which makes decisions for the working world of the future and thus ensures everyone’s standard of living, security and environmental compatibility, but at the same time minimises personal freedom and self-determination. In addition, a utopian scenario featured in the project, in the form of the "post-growth society", characterised by gainful employment no longer existing in its current form. Instead, here, work consists in the expression of personal development, made possible by an unconditional basic income and the effective use of all resources on Earth.
Claudio Zettel: "The very different scenarios show a high degree of selectivity,” Zettel notes. “This is of particular importance with the scenario technique used and facilitates the social dialogue now launched with the conference, and set to continue in the coming months as a discursive discussion with representatives of social partners and from academia." The aim is to put the scenarios up for discussion and to derive possible conclusions for today's action.
Participants in the "FutureWork" project
In addition to DLR-PT, the IQIB– Institute for Qualifying Innovation Research and Consulting, the ZAK | Centre for Applied Cultural Studies and Studium Generale at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Institute for Project Management and Innovation at the University of Bremen and the Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung e.V. are involved in the "FutureWork" project. In addition to its expertise in the field of labour research, DLR-PT contributes the systematic application of foresight methods, which are gaining increasing importance in policy and strategy consulting.