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MIT Launches Work of the Future Task Force

01 March 2018

Recently MIT launched its Task Force on the Work of the Future to understand and shape the evolution of jobs during an age of innovation.

The Task Force was formed to address the uncertainty and anxiety around the present state of disruptive innovation, which could fundamentally change the social structure of humanity. According to its website, the Task Force was formed to address the following questions:

  • How are emerging technologies transforming the nature of human work and the set of skills that enable humans to thrive in the digital economy?
  • How can we shape and catalyze technological innovation to complement and augment human potential?
  • How can our civic institutions ensure that the gains from these emerging innovations contribute to equality of opportunity, social inclusion, and shared prosperity?

“The MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future takes as a guiding premise that addressing the social and human implications of technology should not be an afterthought, but instead should be a first concern that pervades how we design, innovate and take our ideas to market, as well as what we teach our students, the technologists of tomorrow,” said MIT Provost Martin A. Schmidt.

Source: Thatonewikiguy / CC BY-SA 4.0Source: Thatonewikiguy / CC BY-SA 4.0The Task Force consists of a faculty/student research team of over 20 members and an external advisory board. Members represent fields from engineering and cognitive science to economics, management, political science, anthropology, education innovation and the history of technology. The Task Force is expected to continue until 2020 and will periodically issue research findings, reports and eventually a popular science book about its findings.

Scholars studying the history of technology have been locked in a heated debate as to whether the current period of disruptive innovation is more severe or unique than previous times. The rapid advances in internet of things (IoT) connectivity, artificial intelligence and automation have the capability to substantially change the nature of human work and employment.

The Task Force on the Work of the Future looks to take a proactive stance on these issues.

“MIT's choice of the title 'Work of the Future' conveys two facets of the challenge and opportunity we face,” said David Autor, associate head of MIT’s Department of Economics and a leader of the Task Force. “One is to understand and anticipate the role that human work will play in a future in which machines accomplish many of our traditional cognitive and physical tasks. A second is to seize the opportunity to shape that future.”

“Our task force aims to contribute to both goals — anticipating the future and enabling individuals, institutions, private-sector actors, and governments to make this future a better one.”

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