Legal responses to the AI-driven work automation: a neo-Aristotelian approach
Artificial Intelligence and robotics increasingly automate human work, causing widespread and often alarmist discussions about a future of mass unemployment. In debating the ethical and legal permissibility of this transformation of work, most researchers weigh its potential benefits and risks, or adopt static principles. However, as a rapidly shifting phenomenon with largely unpredictable consequences, automation is inadequately addressed with these approaches. Instead, the proposed project argues that Aristotelian ethics, which aims at human flourishing through a virtuous and contemplative life, is best equipped to examine automated systems, and accordingly builds a neo-Aristotelian framework to evaluate their incorporation in work. It begins by asking whether the automation of work is conducive to such a life, and tests the hypothesis that it debilitates virtues but facilitates contemplation. Next, it investigates how both individual and collective measures could resolve this conflict. It explores options for the habits and training of developers and end-users, and eventually suggests what are the optimal conditions for flourishing that legislators and policymakers need to achieve in an age of automation. Combining ethical, political and legal theory, this interdisciplinary project is expected to offer insights useful to scholars in philosophy and law as well as relevant professional bodies, educators, decision-makers, third-sector organisations and the general public.