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Work less, play more: can humans benefit from robots in the workplace?

Public event


The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


This event is part of the British Academy's season on Robotics, AI and Society

The Luddite uprising of the early 19th century pitted English textile workers against the machines taking their jobs. The machines won.

If, as experts warn, large numbers of jobs are at risk of automation over the next 20 years, are we likely to encounter similar scenes of upheaval? Or are media reports of robots stealing our jobs misdirected?

If machines can save us time and open up new types of roles, then surely we should embrace the change?


  • Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium
  • Dr Sabine Hauert, Lecturer in Robotics, University of Bristol
  • Daniel Susskind, Fellow in Economics, University of Oxford and co-author of The future of the professions: How technology will transform the work of human experts (OUP, 2015)
  • Professor Judy Wajcman FBA, Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology, LSE and author Pressed for time: The acceleration of life in digital capitalism (Chicago, 2015) 


  • Timandra Harkness, Journalist and author, Big Data: Does size matter? (Bloomsbury Sigma, 2016)

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Work less, play more: can humans benefit from robots in the workplace? The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK