Sunday, 9 March 2014

Thinking about the future of work

I agreed to do a talk at a student leadership get together next weekend and have been wondering what an economist can talk about. A first thought was to tell a roots of development story, throw in some institutions and then leadership. But that might be a lot to think about if you're a first-year student spending your Saturday morning listening to lesser-known experts.

So I though the future of work, the data society and machine intelligence story could be interesting. I don't have anything ready yet, but want to share a few links:
  • Johan probably made me think about this when he wrote about technology, robots and MOOCs why his and my jobs are probably safe.
  • I wrote about the knowledge sharing, co-working story last year, with reference to MOOCs.
  • If you are still worried that open-education and MOOCs might disrupt your academic work, Acemoglu and some co-authors has a math model showing that web-based educational technologies will complement your work.
  • Last week I also caught a Project Syndicate post on the displacement of workers by intelligent machines.
The bulk of my story will probably be inspired by Tyler Cowan's book Average is over. I am about a third of the way in and he makes some interesting points about teams working with intelligent machines and the lessons from freestyle chess. Earlier this year he shared a few thoughts on the NYT Opinionator blog on who will do well in the future: the conscientious, people who listen to computers, those with a marketing touch and motivators.

And of course I plan to mention movies: Gattaca, Minority report and Elysium. Any other good ones that anyone would like to recommend for machine intelligence driven future dystopia? For things turning out really bad there is Terminator and The Matrix. Battlestar Galactica? But maybe this is going too far from "the future of work" topic!

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