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Peterloo Now: AI and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Manchester Histories, in partnership with the University of Manchester and the Guardian, our panel, which includes Professor Deborah Howcroft, will be discussing the fourth industrial revolution and asking whether the rise in artificial intelligence will lead to a new wave of social unrest.

In 1819, St Peter’s Field was packed with working class Mancunians who were demanding political representation as a means of addressing the hardships they were facing in the world’s first industrial city. A few decades earlier, the same workers were caught up in Luddite riots, fearful of the role that the march of technology might have on their jobs and livelihoods.

Today, we hear that in the fourth industrial revolution, AI will irreversibly transform the world of work for the 21st century, threatening the jobs of many in the workforce. Indeed, many jobs have already been permanently altered or replaced in favour of advanced technology, and the institutions whose technology is slow to advance, such as the NHS, suffer.

What will happen to the companies that cannot afford to advance their technology? Will their workers be safeguarded against the threat of AI, or is it a ticking clock of inevitability? 200 years after the Peterloo massacre, should we be ready for mass protest as people fight for their right to a decent wage and place of work?

Running time: 90 minutes, no interval.

This event is part of a series called Peterloo Now. Other events in this series:

Image: Robotic farmers in agriculture spray chemical fertiliser. Photograph: Sompong Sriphet/EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm

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