Chapter 22: Artificial intelligence and robotics, the workplace, and workplace-related law
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Numerous robots are already in use in workplaces throughout the world today. We are in the so-called Second Machine Age, also frequently referred to as Industry 4.0. Many enterprises are working towards the goal of optimizing work and production processes and creating a so-called smart factory in which humans and machines work together and automation is achieved through the deployment of intelligent machines. These intelligent self-learning systems are driven by cloud computing, breakthroughs in sensor technology and the creation of new algorithms that harness the power of big data. The new workplace is constantly changing, increasingly uninhibited by geographical boundaries and inspired by the arrival of robots and new technologies. Progress in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will change the workplace and employment law. If robots become colleagues and superiors, employers must keep a keen eye on employment law developments. The aim of this Chapter is to examine the effects of robots and AI on employment and labour law. The introduction first defines what we understand by robots and AI. It then explains which robots play a role in the workplace today and could play a role in the workplace in the future. The workplace changes will have consequences for employment and labour law. I will therefore examine seven employment and labour law issues that might be problematic in the light of existing regulations. These seven challenges for employment and labour law are identified using Swiss law as the national system of reference for the chapter.

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