The advent of robots is the last frontier of the ongoing far-reaching digital transformation of work and makes it urgent to rethink a number of rules introduced after the second industrial revolution to regulate working people, and adapt them to the massive employment of artificial intelligence (AI), working side by side, and prospectively substituting, humans-at-work.

Despite the obvious advantages of putting excess capacity to use, the game-changing digitalization of work has given rise to some fundamental, but yet-to-be answered, questions. With respect to robotization in particular, those questions relate to the very definition of labour and employment, as well as to the need to provide social protection to those who have been excluded from their workplace and substituted by AIs.
Any insightful analysis of the employment of robots-at-work requires an interdisciplinary approach as well as a comparative methodology. To ensure that the research fulfils that requirement and to strengthen the understanding of the most significant issues, particular attention will be paid to interdisciplinary research in collaboration with experts in AI, economics, sociology, and psychology. Their input will allow to dig into the “real” nature of robotization and the actual impact of employment regulation in that context on our society, as well as on social actors (namely trade unions).

Due to the growing and crucial involvement of robots in modern enterprises, the University of Luxembourg is highly interested in conducting research that will point to the attention of experts and law makers the actual regulatory needs for those organizational contexts where robotization is, more than just a future perspective, an actual reality. Suggesting rules and codes of conducts to govern the employment of robots-at-work will be the central aim of the research initiative. Arguments on how regulate labour disputes (e.g. strikes, collective actions, etc.) will also be investigated, as well as alternative outcomes depending on the nature and intensity of the interaction between robots and humans-at-work.

Main contributor(s): Luca Ratti