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[en] The 4th industrial revolution is, inter alia, characterized by the fact that AI will gradually become an integral part of future work performance. Two issues arise in this context: first, will the presence of non-Human elements in the workplace present the incentive to redefine the constitutive elements of the employment contract i.e. provision of services in favor of an employer, subordination and remuneration? Second, should the objectives of labour law be redefined in order to better adapt to the new, automated workforce in the labour markets?
In an attempt to answer these questions, the present study will center around two streams of argumentation: on a personal level, it will focus on the legal status that intelligent systems may enjoy in the future. On a structural and a substantial levels, the study will focus on the need to redefine the defining elements of employment by reason of AI-integration in the labour markets.
Ratione personae, there seems to be a doctrinal divide between two schools of thought: those who consider that AI should be viewed as an agent - and therefore, a specific type of employee - given its autonomous capacity to simulate human skills in the workplace. Alternatively, there are those who hold the view that AI is but a means of production and should, as such, be treated as an object.
Ratione materiae, there is little doubt that AI will profoundly alter the ways in which work is performed. Already, some companies use AI for recruitment purposes. The modes of surveillance and assessment of the employees’ performance will also be modified: employers will no longer be held to personally evaluate their staff; this task will be delegated to AI. The concept of remuneration may also be somewhat altered: will remuneration be relevant in entirely automated sectors considering that AI does not rely on remuneration for subsistence? Moreover, the determination of the value of wages may change. While in partially automated sectors wages will rise, some scholars prophesize an increase in the social costs and revenue taxes in order to finance social security safety nets (such as Universal Basic Income) for workers pushed to AI-induced unemployment. Through the analysis of the ratione personae and ratione materiae aspects of automation, we shall draw two main conclusions. First, AI will not benefit from a tailor-made worker status but will most likely be qualified as an object. Employment contracts will remain the matter of Humans and will continue to be defined in reference to the services-subordination-remuneration tryptic. Second, we will argue that labour law may require a more serious update. Aspects like skill-diversification through training, the right to form unions, the non-discrimination principle in the access to certain professions and the exercise of the right to conduct business will gain more importance as the content of labour continues to change. We predict the emerging of a more rights-oriented labour law, raising new defensive shields against overly ‘Orwellian’ intrusions in workers’ data, privacy and overall well-being in the workplace.