The era of artificial intelligence marks the start of a fifth industrial revolution, University of Newcastle Professor Duncan McDuie-Ra says.
The rapid pace of change in the convergence of humans with technology means the future is now upon us.
But the robot revolution as we know it is merely "the tip of the iceberg".
"It's hard to pin down with any precision how big the iceberg will become," the professor of urban sociology said.
It's clear, however, that robots and machines will take over more and more functions once reserved for humans.
"I used AI [artificial intelligence] today. I was listening to music and it was predicting songs that I might like," Professor McDuie-Ra said.
"We're using it in lots of ways all the time. I'm interested in the social moment where there's this change that seems inevitable, but it's still a little bit out of reach.
"That opens up this arena for grand statements, like 'the world will never be the same' and 'work will never be the same'.
"I'm sure people thought that about cars and computers in offices."
Professor McDuie-Ra will on Thursday give a free public talk in Newcastle titled, "The Backroads of Artificial Intelligence".
"When you travel down the backroads, you start to see it a little bit differently."
The so-called backroads refer to places like India, which has become a kind of global sink for the western world's trend of outsourcing, downsizing and onselling.
"What happens in places where human labour is still cheaper than machines?" he said.
"I really worry that what we'll see is a deepening of global inequality."
He was less worried about the dehumanising element because "people already use machines like Amazon's Alexa to help them with tasks".
And people already feel the need for digital detoxes to address the widespread addiction to smartphones.
This awareness of the importance of taking breaks from technology will undoubtedly extend to artificial intelligence.
And while the technology will have opportunities and benefits, the anticipation of its effects has put humanity in a collective state of anxiety.
"I wonder how all that plays out and what it would take for people to feel less anxious about it," he said.
"And I worry that people will take the anxiety out in other ways like on immigrants and welfare.
"General climates of anxiety are pretty unhelpful to human progress."
He added that it was hard to disentangle this anxiety from "reactionary nationalism in different parts of the world".
"It feeds into general future anxiety that the world as we know is slipping from our grasp," he said.
"I don't know whether that's a justified fear or not."
He said it was ironic that the technology that is expected to "catapult humans into a new era could move us backward in other ways".
Such concerns prompted the CSIRO to release a discussion paper on the ethics of artificial intelligence.
It recommended these core principles: benefits must outweigh costs, do no harm, protect privacy, compliance with the law, fairness, transparency, accountability and people must have the right to challenge its use when it affects them.
Uses of artificial intelligence that were shrouded in secrecy would be unacceptable "when public interest is at stake", the paper said.
In India, the government has released a National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence.
Professor McDuie-Ra said India calls itself a "garage" for the technology.
"They talk about five domains of AI - healthcare, agriculture, education, smart cities and transportation," he said.
"They do acknowledge that their IT sector will be severely disrupted by AI improvements."
Even a small change in India's information-technology hubs in places like Bangalore and Hyderabad would leave many people out of work.
He said India was an interesting place to observe how people might react or respond because parts of it were known for strongly resisting major change.
"There is frequent protest over land seizure, territorial control and human rights," he said.
In Newcastle and the Hunter, he believes the AI revolution could compound the brain-drain trend. That is, graduates leaving the region to seek work.
The free talk will be held at Newcastle Conservatorium from 6pm to 7pm.