Kick-off for the AUTOWORK project (during a pandemic)

In kicking-off the AUTOWORK project, we have great expectations for what the project will bring to research on the automation, digitalization and robotization of work.

Although we had planned for a physical meeting in Trondheim, Norway, global realities of course made that impossible. Shifting to a digital solution was interesting in itself given the topic of this project: Would this digitalization of our work make it more efficient? Would the lack of informal interactions during coffee breaks or meals be detrimental? We found, surprisingly perhaps, that we could get to know each other well in the digital realm, even as we look forward to meeting face-to-face. But, most importantly, we discovered an enthusiasm for this project, and a wealth of knowledge that all partners already possessed, that was almost impossible to contain to eight hours of of video conferencing. We also discussed how COVID, which dictated the digitalisation of our own kick-off meeting, is accelerating the automation and digitalization of work, especially in the sale and service sector, in ways both visible and invisible, making out research more timely than ever.

The AUTOWORK project consists of project leader NTNU Social Research and four departments at NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology:

  • Department of Social Anthropology
  • Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture
  • Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science
  • Department of Sociology and Political Science
  • Department of Computer Science

With us digitally were partners from Monash University, in Melbourne in Australia. Participating from Monash are:

  • School of Media, Film and Journalism
  • Emerging Technologies Research Lab

Norway and Australia can seem remote from the rest of the world, at the northern and southern reaches of the globe. The restrictions on travel can make that isolation feel larger, while the digital meetings can make those distances seem to collapse. We look forward to sharing with the rest of the world insights we can glean about the future of work.

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