Technological coalescence, recombinant innovation and future work; Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the workforce

  • Claire Clement

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Workers are constantly reminded that computers, machines and technology such as artificial intelligence will replace them, jobs can be automated and humans replaced by machines. A dystopian view of the future world of work is portrayed. The pace of technological change is accelerating and workers are being left behind with the fear and expectation that they will be replaced. This research challenges the dystopian view that technology will replace humans in the workforce and that the end of work is near. It discredits the claim of technological substitution in the workplace and puts the human worker at the heart of future work.
    This thesis followed a mixed method, empirical design that followed an abductive approach, through expert knowledge utilising a two round Delphi approach, triangulated with historical quantitative data and with semi-structured follow-up interviews. The methodological choices present a novel and original approach to exploratory study, building on the best practices of others to explore an area of economic and societal importance, exploring the impact of technological change on future high skilled professional work.
    The original contribution to knowledge presented in this thesis is a human centric competency and contextualisation model. The model captures six significant areas of competency that represents a human comparative advantage that professional workers provide over emerging technological change. These areas are an ability to ‘assess, create, relate, adapt, prioritise and filter.’ These six areas enable complex contextualisation that technology cannot replicate and replace. This model informs policy owners and makers along with individual students and workers on the key competency areas that need to be taught, learnt and developed for future professional roles. In addition to the competency and contextualisation model this research delivers a recommended approach of workforce coalescence. Furthermore, this research acknowledges the need for ethical compliance and governance over the use and adoption of technology and identified this as an important emerging area of future human job growth, with new roles required in this field. The model of workforce coalescence emphasises the need for augmentation and integration with technological change, driven by human contextualisation and ethical adoption, further dispelling the myth of technological threat to workers and presenting a more complementary existence for economic and societal benefit. In an area that has been obfuscated by a varied array of interpretation and individual definition this thesis presents clarity on what constitutes technological change, establishing a baseline for future research and literature. It supports the seminal definitions of historical figures who coined terms such as Artificial Intelligence, reiterating and re-establishing the term as a science.
    Date of Award26 Nov 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorGareth White (Supervisor) & Simon Thomas (Supervisor)

    Cite this