Few topics are as important, - and as challenging to anticipate, - than the future of work given our justifiable fears of rising technological unemployment. How are job markets likely to evolve in our 21st century digital economy? This question has been widely discussed for years, but, - at the end of the day, - we don’t really have good answers.
One such discussion took place this past September at the The World Summit on Technological Unemployment in New York. Its agenda featured top experts on the subject, including Larry Summers, Robert Reich and Joseph Stiglitz. I moderated a panel on Technology and the Future of Work, where MIT economist David Autor and NY Times reporter John Markoff talked about their most recent work. The Summit explored many good ideas, but there were no definitive answers.
Autor’s most recent paper on the subject, Why Are There Still So Many Jobs? The History and Future of Workplace Automation, frames the topic through a number of important questions, including:
- Why hasn’t automation already wiped out a majority of jobs?;
- Will mid-skill, mid-pay jobs continue to decline?; and
- What’s the impact of AI, robotics and other advanced technologies?