Scenarios and Perspectives for AI-based Work Environments

In a foresight- and scenario-study commissioned by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) and as part of a BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) Smart AI-Work project, foresightlab and ScMI AG have developed six scenarios for tomorrow's AI-based working environment. How could work life in Europe be influenced by AI in 2030? And what developments are expected?


In consideration of the uncertainty of the future development of AI and its integration into a complex system of technical, economic and socio-political influences, it is not sufficient to consider only an expected or desired future. Instead, different possibilities should be considered and explored. The methodology of scenario management was used for this purpose.


The future space of the six scenarios can be represented by three core dimensions: the learning capacity of AI and its augmentation potential, the role of different actors in CI development and the change in the working world. At the edges of the possibility space, a clearly negative as well as in contrast a rather utopian scenario emerge. Between these two extremes there are four further visions of the future, each of which contains different potential opportunities and risks:


  • Inertia scenario:
    • Slower AI development with little impact on the world of work
  • Automation scenario:
    • Automation in the classic corporate world
  • Platform scenario:
    • Global platform companies driven by AI-based automation
  • Ambivalence scenario:
    • Dynamic AI development being trapped in a traditional working world
  • Transformation scenario:
    • AI creates new working environments in a dynamic network
  • Vision scenario:
    • AI as problem solver on the way to the post-occupation society



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