17:30 - 18:30
Work: New Skill-Set for a Post-Human Workforce

Short thesis

Through digitization and automation, machines are taking on more and more tasks for humans. What will the technology soon be able to do and what never? And what remains for us to do in the end? Are we the programmers or the laborer of the machines? A look at the history and present of technology and society offers first answers.


The technical development continuously enhances computers to go beyond solving arithmetic problems. Self-regulating robotic systems are entering production and are no longer just more precise and enduring than humans, but soon more flexible and creative. With Amazon's Mechanical Turk and the Uber transport service, it is clear how middle management can be be made obsolete by technology and that it is no longer human who manages the machine, but the software that guides people.

Algorithms are also involved in the production of statistics and forecasts that serve as the foundation of medical, economic, and political decisions. The technology is in charge of political decisions. At the same time, a look back at the promise of AI research over the last forty years shows that the computers are far from achieving their promised performance. Increasingly, limitations of technical feasibility are emerging. 
What kind of robot awaits us in the future and how will we live together? The current research shows, it will not be HAL, unfortunately it won't be HER either. At best it will probably be R2-D2. But we will have to wait decades for him, too. The big technical jumps come less often than expected. When will computers improve themselves? Well not for some time.

Nevertheless, computers are getting stronger and more flexible. Many tasks and professions will be taken over by robots and computers in the next few years. What should become of us when technology takes over? Are we all becoming early retirees or Uber slaves? And what are the necessary skills in a post-human work-force? A close look at the history and present of technological developments offers some first answers.


Developed and facilitated in cooperation with the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)