Future workers on the future of work

© iStock

© iStock

On June 1st, students from EPFL and HEC Lausanne will lead a public debate on how technology is transforming the world of work. Four subjects will be debated: automation and the ‘useless class,’ recruitment using AI, the confrontation of human and technological capacities, and the use of software as a service. 

In 2021, EPFL's College of Humanities, in collaboration with the University of Lausanne and the Institute for Management Development (IMD)launched a new course on the Future of Work. 

A group of 14 experts on the future of work, members of the E4S platform on shaping the future of work, teaches the class, coordinated by Rafael Lalive, professor and Vice-Dean at the Faculty of Business and Economics Lausanne (HEC Lausanne).

In the course, students from bachelor programs at EPFL and HEC Lausanne (UNIL) explored the enormous potential impact that technological changes tied to artificial intelligence, big data, and advances in computing power may have on the workplace and the labor market. 

For the last lecture of the course on June 1st, the students will take over and lead a debate on how technology is changing the workplace of the future. From automation and recruiting, to skills and privacy, students will discuss some of the big issues facing them as they enter the world of work. The debate will be broadcast on the CDH YouTube channel with the support of the UNIL Centre de Soutien à l'Enseignement.


The public debate:

Themes addressed:

  • Automation and the ‘useless class’ - Historian and author, Yuval Noah Harari, says that technological evolution will create a ‘useless class’ - people whose jobs can be easily taken over by machines, and who will become demoralized from losing their jobs forever. Is this already happening and how can we deal with the consequences?
  • Anonymous recruiting: fairness and equality - Many companies now use Artificial Intelligence (AI) in recruiting, and new forms of virtual hiring, transforming one of the most ‘human’ focused areas of business. Despite initial expectations that this will reduce biases, it has instead exacerbated discrimination and perpetuated inequalities. So, will anonymous recruiting help or hinder the quest for a fairer labor market?
  • Technological evolution and Virtual Reality: will our skills ever be good enough? - First the computer, then the Internet, now Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) - technology is evolving rapidly. But can our skills keep up?
  • Software as a Service: are we paying to have our privacy invaded? – After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, user privacy across digital platforms became a hot topic. As businesses adopt ‘software as a service’ as a new operating model, does this mean we are paying to use technologies that could invade our privacy?

An international perspective on the world of work:

Debate moderators, Zack Bhalla and Felipe Escames

The live debate will be moderated by Zack Bhalla and Felipe Escames, two young exchange students at HEC Lausanne. 

Zack is majoring in Business and Management at Durham University (UK) while Felipe is studying Industrial Engineering at the State University of Campinas (Brazil).

Zack and Felipe are both fascinated by the impact that technology is having on jobs and workplaces. Zack became interested in this topic after he shadowed the IT team at a Unilever office in Eastern Europe, and Felipe after taking a course on how technology is transforming the world of finance.