A recent report from PwC found that automation, robotics and artificial intelligence stand to make 30% of all UK jobs redundant in just 15 years’ time – with losses as high as 50% in some sectors. Couple this trend with the looming emergence of 3D printing, distributed manufacturing, self-driving cars and the Internet of Things, and the numbers could be even higher.

But it’s not just manually intensive, blue-collar jobs on the line.

It’s now 20 years since IBM’s Deep Blue beat chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov, and the new generation of AIs can already outperform accountants, lawyers, doctors, telemarketers and even the world’s best GO master. In some sectors, it is already more cost-effective to completely automate the entire value chain from extraction, through production, distribution and delivery to the customer – with almost no human involvement whatsoever – than it is to maintain a human-operated supply chain.

The age of intelligent machines has well and truly arrived.

Should we be worried? Professor Stephen Hawking has stated that AI could be the greatest thing ever for humanity…or it could kill us all. While Elon Musk and Bill Gates have also expressed concerns about the existential risks posed by smarter than human artificial intelligence.

But it’s not all “Skynet”, Terminator and dystopia on the horizon. AI, robotics and automation are also helping transform healthcare, environmental management and sustainability, cutting carbon emissions, delivering greater efficiencies, minimising health and safety risks, speeding innovation, saving lives and freeing workers from mindless drudgery so they can work on more fulfilling and satisfying tasks.

How should we prepare for – and respond to – the radical transformations being unleashed by this Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Can we make the machines work for the greater good to help build a better world for all? Or are we unleashing the forces of our own destruction, servitude and obsolescence?

Will the rise of the machines, require fundamental changes to our economic system, the adoption of universal incomes, and the creation of entirely new industries to keep people occupied and employed?

Or will it be the death of work as we know it, leaving us to while away our days, sipping piña coladas in a beachside hammock? Or bloodied, hungry and desperate, rising up like John Connor or the Paris mob in a new post-apocalyptic hell?

These were the ideas we explored in our September Crowd Forum on “The Rise of the Machines”. 160 attendees joined us as we delved into both the positive and negative implications of this fascinating and radical transformation, whose impacts are already being felt.

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Event for: Directors/ Heads of: Sustainability | CSR | Environment | Innovation


  • Sean Culey

    Executive VP, Research and Advisory Services, Manucore
  • Avida Hancock

    Entrepreneur, Satalia
  • Kerstin Dautenhahn

    Professor of AI, University of Hertfordhire
  • Kriti Sharma

    VP of Bots and AI, Sage Group
  • Chris Middleton


Round Tables

  • Adapting Business Processes For The New Machine Age
    Many of the early phase benefits of automation, AI and robotics revolve around radical improvements to business processes. There is little doubt that these technologies can be applied effectively to streamline processes, improve efficiencies, reduce costs and free workers from dirty, dangerous or dispiriting drudgery. But what are the best strategies for companies looking to take advantage of these technologies? Which strategic approaches have been shown already to work? How can companies get strategically smart about smart machines and automation?
  • AI & Automation For Science-Based Targets
    SBTs are the foremost way for companies to manage their carbon emission reductions in a way that is consistent with the 2-degree pathway. But SBT implementation can be technically challenging. In essence, SBTs enable the equitable sharing out amongst businesses of the carbon emissions reductions needed to limit global warming to no more than 2°C. It is a discipline that is both data and process dependent – making it ripe for AI enhanced innovation. As Nick Hay from Edelman recently said, “If AI governed the business world, it would likely use SBTs”. This roundtable will delve into science-based targets, what they are, how they work and touch on the possible role of AI in helping companies achieve them.
  • AI & Automation For The SDGs
    Artificial intelligence (AI) is empowering the fourth industrial revolution, with intelligent machines tackling new cognitive tasks at scale, leading to enormous economic efficiency gains and disruption across the labour market. But what will be the net impact of AI on society and the environment? Can AI be harnessed to help deliver the SDGs? Which SDGs are ripe for AI and automation-empowered disruptive innovation?
  • Empowering Renewables
    As we transition from centralised fossil-fuel powered energy generation and storage, towards ever greater use of renewables and hyper-distributed generation and storage, AI can undoubtedly play a major part in empowering, optimising and managing demand, supply and generation. How can businesses get ahead of the trend, and start using AI to better manage and optimise their own energy use? What role can AI play in helping companies achieve 100% renewable energy objectives?
  • Societal Impacts
    Much has been made of the looming impact of automation, AI and robotics on employment, and the projected number of job losses clearly pose a major challenge for the economy. If half the population can't find jobs, what impact will this have on society? Will it give us more free time for leisure, creativity and helping others? Or will it be a recipe for massive social upheaval and unrest? Will it drive unprecedented levels of inequality and obscene wealth disparity between the owners of the machines and everyone else? Or can smart machines actually support and enhance job satisfaction creating a better work/life balance and ensuring a fairer society?
  • Supply Chain Automation & Optimisation
    Supply chain management has traditionally been a fundamentally human discipline, but that is rapidly changing. The use of automation, robotics, AI, IoT and distributed manufacturing are radically disrupting traditional supply chain practices. This session will consider how companies can optimise their supply chains with these technologies. How do you determine costs vs benefits? What is the business case for supply chain automation? What are the implications for sustainable supply chain management?
  • The Ethics Of Automation
    The rise of the machines raises a great number of tricky ethical questions - most of which we are woefully unprepared for. Is it ethical to replace your workforce entirely with machines? What happens after the end of jobs? How do we fairly distribute the wealth created by the rise of the machines? Should we tax the robots? Do intelligent machines have rights? Should they be treated humanely? Can smart machines be held responsible for their actions? How can we stop AI from doing harm?
  • Universal Income For A Work-Free Age
    With up to 40% of UK jobs expected to be lost within 20 years, many have touted a universal wage as a possible solution to looming mass unemployment - and trials of the concept are already taking place or being considered in Finland, Scotland, NZ and Canada. But is this the answer? Are there better options, for instance, with civic work, nature renewal projects or mass retraining, upskilling and mobilisation for social or environmental causes? This roundtable will discuss the implications for work in the machine age.
  • Utopia Or Dystopia?


  • 17:30
    Arrivals and Networking
  • 18:00
    Welcome from Daniel McMurray, Chief Catalyst, The Crowd
  • 18:05
    Keynote from Sean Culey, Manucore
  • 18:25
    Chris Middleton in discussion with Sean Culey, Avida Hancock, Kerstin Dautenhahn and Kriti Sharma.
  • 19:15
    Roundtable discussions (moderated discussions in groups of 10-12)
  • 20:00
    Drinks and Networking
  • 20:00

Venue Details

The Great Hall, Chartered Insurance Institute, 20 Aldermanbury, London

Who's Attending

Responsible Investment Analyst Aberdeen Asset Management
Analyst – Responsible Investing Aberdeen Asset Management
Research Senior Manager Accenture
Senior Consultant Acre
Principal Consultant Acre
Chief Executive Adnams
Head of Finance and Sustainability Adnams
Environmental Sustainability Manager Adnams
Senior Sustainability Manager Amazon UK
International FD Amnesty International
Sustainability Manager Anglian Water
Supplier Management Co-ordinator Arcadia Group Limited
Senior Global Corporate Responsibility Manager Aviva
Director Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Technology Project Consultant Bank of America Merrill Lynch
E-Trading Technology Sales Bank of America Merrill Lynch
CSR Manager Bank of England
Environment Manager Barclays
Director Barclays
Vice President Barclays
High Growth & Entrepreneurs Manager Barclays
VP, CEO Office, Corporate Banking Barclays
VP, CEO Office, Corporate Banking Barclays
Commercial Development Manager Bioregional
Head of Offline and Events BoraCo
Environmental Manager Bouygues
Head of Digital BT
Senior Consultant, Group Corporate Affairs BT Group Plc
Responsibility Project Manager Burberry Group Plc
Responsibility Project Manager Burberry Ltd
Head of Sectors Cabinet Office
Global Investors Lead CBRE Group
Sustainability Manager CBRE Group
Director Collectively / The Guardian / Positive News
Associate Director – Sustainability Colliers International
Partnership Manager Cool Earth
CEO crowdfooding
Principal David Butter Consulting
Best Practice Specialist De Beers Group of Companies
Head of Modern Economy Programme Demos
Global Community Manager Dentsu Aegis Network
Data Innovation Lead Department of International Development
Sustainable Sourcing Manager Diageo
Sustainable Sourcing Manager Diageo
Head of Sustainable Sourcing Diageo
Technologist – Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence Digital Catapult
Lead Policy Research & Strategy Digital Catapult
Head of UK Assessment DNV GL
Consultant DNV GL
Principal Consultant – Sustainability & Innovation DNV GL
Group Business Development Director Domino Printing UK Plc
Head of CR DXC Technology
Development Manager Earthwatch Institute
Senior Strategist Forum for the Future
Corporate Responsibility Manager Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Head of Green Solutions FTSE Russell
CEO Future Fit Foundation
Director Generation IM
Broker Gibson Group
Digital Sociologist Goldsmiths College
Sustainability Executive Grant Thornton UK LLP
Head of Projects Great Portland Estates
IT Manager Great Portland Estates
External Relations and Sustainability Director GSMA
Energy & Environment Manager Hammerson
UK Head of Innovation Herbert Smith Freehils
Energy Data Analyst Hilton
Senior Sustainability Manager Hilton Worldwide
Parliamentary Adviser HM Government
Senior Environmental Manager HS2 Ltd
Programme Manager, AuditFutures ICAEW
Sustainability Executive ICAEW
Sustainability Manager ICAEW
Investment Manager Impact Ventures UK
BDM Integrated Environmental Solutions
Group Sustainability Manager Interserve Plc
Sustainability Comms & Engagement Lead Interserve Plc
Head of Energy ISS Global
CR Manager ISS UK
Director of Sustainability Jacobs
Sustainability Manager JLL
Senior Manager, CR John Lewis Partnership
Director, Innovation Jones Lang Lasalle
UK Head of Sustainability – Building a Better Tomorrow Jones Lang Lasalle
Energy Management Coordinator King’s College London
Head of Sustainability King’s College London
Senior Environment & Energy Manager Land Securities
marketing Libryo
PPA Development Lightsource Renewable Energy
PPA Development Lightsource Renewable Energy
Account Manager Lightsource Renewable Energy
Head of Development Lightsource Renewable Energy
Brand and Marketing M&S
Senior Employee Engagement Manager M&S
Director of Innovation Mace Ltd
Plan A Project Manager Marks & Spencer
Director Sustainable Business Marks & Spencer
Senior Sustainability Manager Marks and Spencer
Business Development Marks and Spencer plc
Data Scientist Microsoft
Sustainability Manager MITIE
SRI analyst Morgan Stanley
analyst Morgan Stanley
Investment Analyst Morgan Stanley Investor Management
Water Resources Engineer Mott MacDonald
Hydrologist Mott MacDonald
Senior Sustainability Manager Multiplex Construction Europe
Sustainability Graduate Multiplex Construction Europe
Social & Community Capital NatWest
Client Engagement Manager Neighbourly
Founder Neighbourly
OD and L&D Lead NMC
Note Taker
Sustainability Project Manager O2
Senior Environmental and Sustainability Advisor Osborne
Vice President, Social Impact, Brand, Global Marketing Pearson plc
Investment Manager Pictet Asset Management
Senior ethical trade manager Primark
Senior ethical trade manager Primark
Marine programme Officer Prince’s Charities’ International Sustainability Unit
private investor Private investor
Energy & Environment Manager Prudential plc
Global CR PwC
Director of Sustainability EUA Ramboll
Global Environment Senior Associate Reckitt Benckiser Plc
Director Responsible 100
Content Retail Week
Analyst RethinkX
Corporate Marketing Executive Ricoh Europe Plc
Senior Manager Rightmove Plc
Principal adviser, Brand and Communications Rio Tinto
Project Manager Rio Tinto
Sustainable Banking Lead – Innovation and Service Royal Bank of Scotland
Environment Reporting Manager Royal Bank of Scotland
European Sustainability Manager Samsung
Innovation Manager Samsung Electronics
Communications Business Partner Santander Group
HSE Manager Shell
Social Performance Adviser Shell
Ambassador Singularity University
Senior Sustainability Manager Skanska
IT Director Standard Bank London Ltd
Director Sustainability and Business Transformation Symrise
Manager of Sustainability T K Maxx
Dir Sustainability Taylor Wimpey
Head of Sustainability Telford Homes PLC
Sustainability Manager Telford Homes PLC
Senior Change Manager Tesco
Director The B Team
Co-Founder The Crowd
Chief Catalyst The Crowd
Sustainability Manager The Crown Estate
Chief Operating Officer The Crown Estate
CEO The Future Academy
Senior Manager, Corporate Responsibility Thomson Reuters
Sustainability Specialist Thomson Reuters
head of business development, energy practice group Thomson Reuters
Head of Global Programmes Thomson Reuters Foundation
Senior Communications Manager Tullow Oil Plc
Executive Director UN Global Compact Network UK
Strategy Manager Unilever
Global VP Sustainable Business Unilever
Sustainability & CSR Lead Vacherin
Head of Building Optimisation Services Verco
Head of Policy, Strategy and Compliance Verco
Consultant Verco
Software Developer Verco
Senior Consultant Verco
Consultant Verco Advisory Services
Reporter Video Ad News
Investment Manager Virgin Management
Quality Manager Viridor Waste Management Ltd
Director of Quality Givernance and Sustainability Walgreens Boots Alliance
Director Will&Progress
Sustainability manager Willmott Dixon Interiors
Business Sustainability Specialist WWF