The battle over Uber and driverless cars is really a debate about the future of humanity | Paul Mason

Uber drivers were right to claim employment rights. But in a world where driverless cars may soon make them redundant, we face long-term dilemmas about the systems we choose

Sometime during the 21st century you will stagger out of a club at 3am and hail a taxi. The vehicle, no longer allowed to loiter in busy areas, will pop out of a stack nearby, find its way to you and honk. You and your drunk companions will stammer out your destinations until they flash up correctly on a screen. And you will glide home, staring enviously at the few people still allowed to drive: emergency service people and maintenance engineers.

What will take you home will not be a car, but rather a system. It might be a passive system, which only orders the traffic and the speeds according to the sum of individual requests, from cars owned by individual people. But it is more likely that it will be an active system – because we, the electorate, will have made it so.

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Study says 850,000 UK public sector jobs could be automated by 2030

Research by Oxford University and Deloitte finds 77% probability of ‘repetitive and predictable’ roles being automated

More than 850,000 public sector jobs could be lost by 2030 through automation, according to a study that comes as a further blow after hundreds of thousands of jobs disappeared following the government’s austerity cuts.

The research conducted by Oxford University and Deloitte, the business advisory firm, found that the 1.3m administrative jobs across the public sector had the highest chance of being automated.

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The eight technologies every entrepreneur should know about

Rapid technological change can be hard for small businesses to track. We speak to the experts about the trends shaping the future

Entrepreneurs need little convincing that technology is important, rapidly evolving, and likely to have a profound impact on their businesses. But keeping track of developments, and knowing where to focus one’s attention, is anything but straightforward. Analysts at PricewaterhouseCoopers (pdf) say the impact of constant technological breakthroughs represent a “megatrend” – a change so big that “every business should develop an emerging technology strategy”. They have highlighted eight key areas that all businesses should pay attention to.

Related: AI invasion will allow workers to empathise, problem-solve and adapt

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With robots, is a life without work one we’d want to live?

Being gainfully employed is about more than money. We need to consider what will give our lives purpose and connection in the age of automation

When Aristotle described “the complete happiness of man”, he thought it would include, among other things, “self-sufficiency, leisureliness and unweariedness”. Unfortunately the philosopher concluded that “such a life would be too high for man” – it was suitable only for the gods. All the same, he encouraged humanity to keep striving to get as close to “complete happiness” as possible.

I reckon he’d be proud of where we’ve got. Today, the fourth industrial revolution – which ranges from artificial intelligence to genetic engineering and automation – promises almost total freedom from weariness and uninterrupted leisure time as demands of work are taken away from us by better, cheaper and more efficient artificial technology.

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Why we must embrace digital disruption and ensure no worker is left behind

Artificial intelligence and the fourth industrial revolution will threaten jobs but there are opportunities for growth

Disruption in the workforce is hardly a new phenomenon. Mechanisation of manufacturing, mass production and the advent of the internet and computers have all changed the way that work is done.

Earlier waves of industrialisation have primarily affected low-skilled manual labour and past improvements in technology have typically made jobs at the lower end of the skills spectrum obsolete – for example, flight navigators but not pilots; typists but not data analysts.

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Humans are going to have the edge over robots where work demands creativity | Tim Dunlop

Jobs will be lost in the age of automation but the creative industries will grow and the ability to work with ambiguity, diversity and empathy will be valued

How likely is it that a robot will take your job?

It is a question asked with increasing urgency as everything from 3D printing to driverless cars to machine learning is rolled out by a tech industry that sees automation as almost a sacred duty.

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A world without work is coming – it could be utopia or it could be hell | Ryan Avent

Robots will eventually do all our jobs, but we need to start planning to avert social collapse

Most of us have wondered what we might do if we didn’t need to work – if we woke up one morning to discover we had won the lottery, say. We entertain ourselves with visions of multiple homes, trips around the world or the players we would sign after buying Arsenal. For many of us, the most tantalising aspect of such visions is the freedom it would bring: to do what one wants, when one wants and how one wants.

But imagine how that vision might change if such freedom were extended to everyone. Some day, probably not in our lifetimes but perhaps not long after, machines will be able to do most of the tasks that people can. At that point, a truly workless world should be possible. If everyone, not just the rich, had robots at their beck and call, then such powerful technology would free them from the need to submit to the realities of the market to put food on the table.

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Why Facebook and Microsoft say chatbots are the talk of the town

Software programmed to interact with humans is hot property in Silicon Valley, with potential benefits for businesses, consumers – even the bereaved

‘Chatbots are the new apps,” said Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella earlier this year. He was not the first senior tech exec to make this claim.

“Threads are the new apps,” suggested Facebook’s head of messaging products David Marcus in January, referring to the threads of conversation in apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

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Written out of the story: the robots capable of making the news

Wordsmith, an artificial writer, can write human-sounding articles and is being used by several news platforms

In January 2016, Fan Hui, three-time champion of the east Asian board game Go, lost to a computer program developed by Google’s subsidiary DeepMind. The game is far more difficult to master than chess, so it was a historic victory for artificial intelligence (AI) which has seen huge advances in recent years. But could AI one day perform more creative tasks? A small tech firm in the US is proving that even journalists aren’t safe from the robot revolution with a product that automates the writing process.

Wordsmith – an artificial writer developed by the North Carolina-based company Automated Insights – cherrypicks elements from a dataset and uses them to structure a “human sounding” article. As well as being able to use more emotive language, it varies diction and syntax to make its work more readable.

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Are chatbots liberating workers?

Small businesses say they have more time to focus on ideas and problem solving thanks to new forms of artificial intelligence that handle the drudgery

If you need to do a job more than once then automate it – or so the wisdom goes. And now the growing availability of intelligent, automated software – or bots – is making automation a reality for businesses of all sizes.

Bots are now undertaking much of the drudgery of business life – filling in forms, answering customer queries, compiling data and handling social media tasks. Proponents say this liberates staff to work on more creative and engaging work; bots are a new, cheap resource to be exploited. But is there a human cost and just how much should we expect from these new minion workers?

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