INDUSTRY 4.0 ECOSYSTEMS: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF WORK-LIFE TRANSFORMATION
According to recent social science research, the global acceleration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) – fusing material, digital and biological worlds, and impacting economies and industries worldwide – is producing socio-economic shifts and disruptions as fundamental as the industrial revolution. The term, ‘Industry 4.0’, has come to be widely used to capture these momentous transformations.
While the various, often competing, claims made on behalf of Industry 4.0 have attracted considerable popular attention, the systematic empirical and conceptual examination of these claims has remained underdeveloped. This is especially so when it comes to the emergence of automated and AI-driven technologies like chatbots. There is a paucity of sociological research that examines the social aspects of how chatbots are being developed and the impacts that these technologies may have on various social relations.
This Discovery Project, funded by the Australia Research Council, is designed to address this lacuna. By exploring the ways in which technologies like chatbots are emerging in in contexts such as Australia, Japan, and Germany, the Project aims to produce new and powerful social theories about the social significance of Industry 4.0 technologies, particularly in relation to the way in which people communicate, see themselves and others, move about the social world, and perform the work that they are doing.
The project seeks to conduct short interviews with people in Australia, Japan, and Germany, who are in occupational roles that are involved in some of the ongoing transformations captured by the term, ‘Industry 4.0’. These occupations are involved in the development and implementation of automated and digital communication networks, such as chatbots.
Analysis of these interviews is meant to yield new sociological insights about how digital technological innovations impact workplace culture and home life, specifically in the way in which AI-driven technologies, like chatbots, institute new social relations and new forms of mobility and inequality.
Interviews will last about 45 minutes and will conducted at a location that is convenient and comfortable for study participants. Participation is entirely voluntary and study participants can decide to withdraw from the project at any time, without reason and any negative consequences.
Ethical approval for this research has been obtained from the University of South Australia Human Research Ethics Committee (ID# 201157). If you would like to participate in this study, or if you have any questions, please contact Dr. Eric L. Hsu (firstname.lastname@example.org) who is coordinating fieldwork for the project.
Professor Anthony Elliott is Dean of External Engagement at the University of South Australia, where he also holds the posts of Director of the Hawke EU Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence and Research Professor of Sociology. He holds a BA Honours degree from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from Cambridge University, where he was supervised by Lord Anthony Giddens, architect of Third Way progressive politics. Professor Elliott holds various international research fellowships and professorships, and is currently Visiting Global Professor of Sociology in the Graduate School of Human Relations, Keio University, Japan and Visiting Professor of Sociology at University College Dublin, Ireland.
Professor Elliott is a prominent social theorist, sociologist and public intellectual. He is the author and editor of some 40 books, which have been translated or are forthcoming in seventeen languages. His work has been favourably reviewed in publications such as the Times Literary Supplement, Los Angeles Times, The British Journal of Sociology, British Medical Journal, American Imago and Choice. Professor Elliott also contributes to media worldwide: amongst others, he has been recently been interviewed by the BBC World Service, The Sunday Times, ABC Radio National, The Australian, BBC Radio 4, GMTV Sunday as well as European and North American radio and television networks.
Professor Elliott is currently working with his research team on artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning and global transformations. His research on AI and robotics is funded by the Australian Research Council, the Toyota Foundation, the European Commission through Erasmus+ Monnet Actions and other agencies. In 2017, Professor Elliott was appointed by the Office of the Chief Scientist to the Australian Council of Learned Academies as a Panel Member of the Expert Working Group on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. His latest book is titled The Culture of Artificial Intelligence, published by Routledge in 2018.
Funding for this research has been provided by the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project Program.