Q: What was the impetus for founding the MIT Shaping the Future of Work Initiative?

David Author: The last 40 years have change into increasingly difficult for the 65 percent of U.S. staff who wouldn’t have a four-year college degree. Globalization, automation, deindustrialization, deunionization, and changes in policy and beliefs have led to fewer jobs, declining wages, and poorer job quality, resulting in greater inequality and shrinking opportunities.

The prevailing economic opinion has been that this erosion is inevitable – that the most effective we will do is to give attention to the provision side, training staff to satisfy market demands, or perhaps providing some compensatory transfers for many who do who’ve lost employment opportunities.

Underlying this fatalism is a paradigm that holds that the aspects that determine the demand for labor, corresponding to technological change, are immutable: staff must adapt to those forces or they will probably be left behind. This assumption is fallacious. The direction of technology is something we decide, and the institutions that determine how these forces operate (e.g., minimum wage laws, regulations, collective bargaining, public investment, social norms) are also endogenous.

To challenge a dominant narrative, it just isn’t enough to easily say it’s fallacious – to really change a paradigm, we must cleared the path by showing a viable alternative path. We must answer what type of work we would like and the way we will develop policies and design technologies that shape that future.

Q: What are your goals for the initiative?

Daron Acemoglu: The initiative’s ambition just isn’t modest. Simon, David and I hope to make progress on recent empirical work to interpret recent events and understand how various kinds of technologies might affect wealth and inequality. We need to contribute to the emergence of a coherent framework that may inform us about how institutions and social forces shape the event of technology and that helps us empirically and conceptually discover the inefficiencies and misdirections of technology. And on this basis, we hope to contribute to policy discussions where policies, institutions and norms are a part of what shapes the longer term of technology in a more useful direction. Last but not least, our mission just isn’t only to conduct our own research, but additionally to assist construct an ecosystem where other, especially younger, researchers are inspired to explore these topics.

Q: What are your next steps?

Simon Johnson: David, Daron and I plan for this initiative to transcend producing insightful and groundbreaking research – our goal is to discover modern worker-friendly ideas that will be utilized by policymakers, the private sector and civil society. We will proceed to place research into practice by repeatedly bringing together students, researchers, policymakers and practitioners who’re shaping the longer term of labor. This also includes strengthening and diversifying the pipeline of young scientists who produce policy-relevant research on our core topics.

We can even be making a series of resources to make our work available to a wider audience. Last fall, David, Daron and I drafted the initiative’s first policy memo, “Can now we have worker-friendly AI?? Choosing the trail of machines within the service of minds.” Our thesis is that the most effective path forward is to give attention to developing workforce-enhancing AI tools that enable less educated or less expert staff to perform more demanding tasks, reasonably than specializing in replacing staff as quickly as possible by automating work tasks. and the creation of jobs in the shape of latest productive tasks for staff of all skill and education levels.

As we move forward, we can even search for opportunities to collaborate globally with a broad range of scientists working on related topics.

This article was originally published at news.mit.edu