The Holy Grail of Future Work

5. October 2016
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Kelli Wells

Kelli Wells is Executive Director for Education and Skills at the GE Foundation. 

OCT 5, 2016 Project Syndicate

NEW YORK – Understanding the future of work is difficult, if not impossible. According to the MacArthur Foundation, 65% of today’s schoolchildren will eventually be employed in jobs that don’t exist yet.

As technology, globalization, and many other factors continue to redefine work, one constant will be the need for soft skills, or “skills for life.” Peer-to-peer deliberation, brainstorming, and collaboration are familiar to working professionals today, but we can’t assume that they come naturally, especially to the millions of students without access to proper training and college- and career-planning resources. In fact, a growing global skills gap suggests that many young workers are already falling behind.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US economy has 5.9 million job openings, while 7.8 million people remain unemployed. In Europe, 5.6 million young people are unemployed, while another two million are neither working nor in school. Read the rest of this entry »


The Future of Computing

30. June 2016
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Bruno Michel

Bruno Michel is a scientist at IBM Research – Zurich.

JUN 30, 2016, Project Syndicate

ZURICH – Ever since the American computer scientist John McCarthy coined the term “Artificial Intelligence” in 1955, the public has imagined a future of sentient computers and robots that think and act like humans. But while such a future may indeed arrive, it remains, for the moment, a distant prospect.

And yet the foreseeable frontier of computing is no less exciting. We have entered what we at IBM call the Cognitive Era. Breakthroughs in computing are enhancing our ability to make sense of large bodies of data, providing guidance in some of the world’s most important decisions, and potentially revolutionizing entire industries.

The term “cognitive computing” refers to systems that, rather than being explicitly programmed, are built to learn from their experiences. By extracting useful information from unstructured data, these systems accelerate the information age, helping their users with a broad range of tasks, from identifying unique market opportunities to discovering new treatments for diseases to crafting creative solutions for cities, companies, and communities. Read the rest of this entry »


Catching the Digital Wave

15. January 2016

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Dominic Barton

Dominic Barton is the global managing director of McKinsey & Company.

JAN 15, 2016, Project Syndicate

NEW YORK – Technological change has always posed a challenge for companies. But, as we saw once again in 2015, it has never occurred as rapidly, or on as large a scale, as today. As innovation sweeps across virtually every sector, from heavy industry to services, it is transforming the competitive landscape, with the most advanced companies – rather than the largest or most established players – coming out on top.

For incumbents, the threat of displacement is very real. The average tenure of a company on the S&P 500 has fallen from 90 years in 1935 to less than 18 years today. Disruptive new players like Uber, which has upended the taxi industry, are tough competitors, often staking out market share by shifting more surplus to consumers. This is part of a broader trend of intensifying competition that, according to recent research from the McKinsey Global Institute, could reduce the global after-tax profit pool from almost 10% of global GDP today to its 1980 level of about 7.9% within a decade. Read the rest of this entry »


Job-Saving Technologies

15. October 2015

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Michael Spence

Michael Spence, a Nobel laureate in economics, is Professor of Economics at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Academic Board Chairman of the Fung Global Institute in Hong Kong, and Chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on New Growth Models. He was the chairman of the independent Commission on Growth and Development, an international body that from 2006-2010 analyzed opportunities for global economic growth, and is the author of The Next Convergence – The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World.

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James Manyika

James Manyika is the San Francisco-based director of the McKinsey Global Institute.

OCT 15, 2015, Project Syndicate

SAN FRANCISCO – This is an age of anxiety about the job-killing effects of automation, with dire headlines warning that the rise of robots will render entire occupational categories obsolete. But this fatalism assumes that we are powerless to harness what we create to improve our lives – and, indeed, our jobs.

Evidence of technology’s potential to help resolve our job concerns can be found in online talent platforms. Digital platforms already have transformed many parts of the economy. The online marketplaces built by Amazon and Alibaba, for example, have reshaped the retail landscape, partly by changing the local nature of retail markets. Read the rest of this entry »


The Better Corporation

19. August 2015

AUG 19, 2015 1, Project Syndicate

LONDON – Around the world, the corporate governance landscape is shifting, as efforts to improve business practices and policies gain support and momentum. The wave of reform has become visible everywhere – from tough new regulations in Japan to sovereign wealth funds like Norway’s Norges Bank Investment Management taking a more active approach to their investments – and it is certain to continue to rise.

Three factors are driving these developments. First, today’s deep economic uncertainty has broadened ordinary people’s awareness of the influence that companies have on politics, policy, and their own daily lives. And, as I have noted previously, people are not only paying greater attention; they also have more power than ever before to make their voices heard.

Second, there has been a burgeoning awareness among governments that economic growth requires a proactive regulatory approach. Robust and resilient economies need strong businesses, and to build strong businesses, governments must play a role in ensuring high-integrity oversight of business activity. Company stewardship and country stewardship are increasingly linked, and authorities now recognize that paying to ensure good governance now is far less costly (both financially and politically) than paying for the consequences of bad governance later. Read the rest of this entry »


The End of Work as We Know It

1. July 2015

Date: 01-07-2015
Source: Project Syndicate

JEAN PISANI-FERRYPisani-Ferry CC

Jean Pisani-Ferry is a professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and currently serves as Commissioner-General for Policy Planning for the French government. He is a former director of Bruegel, the Brussels-based economic think tank.

PARIS – In 1983, the American economist and Nobel laureate Wassily Leontief made what was then a startling prediction. Machines, he said, are likely to replace human labor much in the same way that the tractor replaced the horse. Today, with some 200 million people worldwide out of work – 30 million more than in 2008 – Leontief’s words no longer seem as outlandish as they once did. Indeed, there can be little doubt that technology is in the process of completely transforming the global labor market.

To be sure, predictions like Leontief’s leave many economists skeptical, and for good reason. Historically, increases in productivity have rarely destroyed jobs. Each time that machines yielded gains in efficiency (including when tractors took over from horses), old jobs disappeared, but new jobs were created. Furthermore, economists are number crunchers, and recent data show a slowdown – rather than an acceleration – in productivity gains. When it comes to the actual number of jobs available, there are reasons to question the doomsayers’ dire predictions. Yet there are also reasons to think that the nature of work is changing. Read the rest of this entry »


The Tinkerer’s Apprentice

19. January 2015

Date: 19-01-2015
Source: Project Syndicate
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ERIC SCHMIDT

Eric Schmidt is Executive Chairman of Google.

BERLIN – The best inventions are never finished. When the German engineer Karl Benz invented the first petroleum-powered automobile, he did not just create an engine with wheels; he set in motion an industry that revolutionized the way society was structured. Similarly, the English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee did not only build the world’s first Web site. He laid the groundwork for the World Wide Web. Neither could have anticipated the impact of what he was doing.

If there is one lesson that economic policymakers should heed in 2015 and beyond, it is this: Just as invention is dynamic, so are the industries it creates. As we learned in 2014, it is a lesson that has yet to sink in entirely.

When Google was launched, people were amazed that they were able to find out about almost anything by typing just a few words into a computer. The engineering behind it was technically complicated, but what you got was pretty rough: a page of text, broken up by ten blue links. It was better than anything else, but not great by today’s standards. Read the rest of this entry »