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Robots, ethics and the future of jobs

In his new book Robots, Ethics and the Future of Jobs (Messenger Publications) », well-known environmentalist and author Séan McDonagh demonstrates that the same tools that used to connect, protect and support people can also be put to use in ways that have a huge negative impact on their privacy, freedom and life choices.

The author, for instance, asserts that the software that guided the track-and-trace efforts in combating the coronavirus could be used to trace migrants or refugees. Moreover, the drones and robots used in the retail, education, hospitality, manufacturing and building industries certainly create efficiencies but will have a huge negative impact on jobs in the future, potentially knocking up to 40%-50% of people out of permanent jobs in these sectors.

McDonagh argues that we need to understand and address the potential repercussions of developing technology in an ethical vacuum. He says that our digital future is fast approaching with little regulation and few institutional policies and protections. He believes that respect for human rights must be at the heart of these new technologies.

Dr Karlin Lillington, journalist on technology and culture for The Irish Times and The Guardian, has written the foreword to the book. She says:

Robots, Ethics and the Future of Jobs is an accessible and thoughtful look at these fascinating, yet disturbing technologies, poised to bring societal change of the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution.”

Mary McAleese, Former President of Ireland, has commented on the book. She says:

“This hugely informative book shakes us out of our massage armchairs and demands that we engage immediately with these galloping advances so we can shape them to the benefit of the many and not leave them to the enrichment of the few at the awful cost of the impoverishment of swathes of humanity.”

Séan McDonagh is a Columban missionary. He spent over two decades working in the Philippines and has written numerous books on ecology and theology including To Care for the Earth (1986), The Death of Life, The Horror of Extinction (2004), Climate Change: The Challenge to Us All (2006), and Laudato Si’: An Irish Response (2017).

The book is published in Ireland and the UK by Messenger Publications and prices at €19.95.