Lighthouse Lecture Series: Employment and Income in the Age of Robots

Lighthouse Lecture Series: Employment and Income in the Age of Robots

Professor Richard B. Freeman visited Macquarie University with the support from the Visiting International Scholar Award in the Faculty of Business and Economics, presenting a public lecture on Employment and Income in the Age of Artificial Intelligence Robots

Professor Richard B. Freeman holds the Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University. He is currently serving as Faculty co-Director of the Labor and Worklife Program at the Harvard Law School, and is Senior Research Fellow in Labour Markets at the London School of Economics' Centre for Economic Performance. He directs the National Bureau of Economic Research / Sloan Science Engineering Workforce Projects, and is co-Director of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities.

Professor Freeman is an enormously innovative labour economist who has made pioneering contributions to virtually every aspect of the field including the market for highly educated labour, the economics of discrimination and poverty, the economics of trade unionism, comparative labour market institutions and empirical methodology. Professor Freeman’s analysis has been notably expansive, eye opening, revealing, policy-relevant and often provocative, no more so than on trade unionism and the role of employee ownership. His contributions have melded traditional models with less standard views of how labour markets operate.

Professor Richard B. Freeman presented a public lecture on Employment and Income in the Age of Artificial Intelligence Robots and participated in a panel discussion at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia on Tuesday 25 July 2017.

Professor Freeman suggested that robots, that is any sort of machinery from computers to artificial intelligence programs that provides a good substitute for work currently performed by humans, can increasingly replace workers, even highly skilled professionals, and thus reduce opportunities for good jobs and pay. Meanwhile, with appropriate policies, the higher productivity due to robots can improve worker well-being by raising incomes and creating greater leisure for workers. After a detailed analysis within the framework of robo-economics, Professor Freeman discussed the potential solutions through which all people can benefit from higher productivity. 

These include employee ownership of AI robots and utilisation of human enhancement AI technology.Professor Freeman joined a panel discussion with Gill Rees (Executive General Manager, Human Resources, CBA), Brian Collins (APAC Director of Financial Services Digital Operations, Ernst & Young), Stephen Halmarick (Chief Economist, Colonial First State Global Asset Management) and Professor Daryll Hull (Director, Centre for Workforce Futures, Macquarie University) on the implications of AI robots for human resource management, work-life and the banking and education industries and how we can best prepare ourselves and the next generations for the new era of AI robots.

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