Program hosts, Tim O’Reilly, Steven Levy, and Lauren Smiley open the first day of Next:Economy.
James Manyika, director of the McKinsey Global Institute and co-author of the book No Ordinary Disruption, sets the stage with a global perspective on the future shape of the economy, and technology’s role in disrupting that economy. He’ll give us some perspective on the speed and scale of the current disruption compared to the industrial revolution, as well as some hard data on what’s happening to productivity, growth, and labor market fluidity and participation rates.
The first industrial revolution transformed agriculture, manufacturing and other forms of manual labor, destroying millions of familiar jobs and creating decades of unrest and inequality, but also leading to a vast expansion of human prosperity. Now, in what Erik Brynjolfsson and Andy McAfee call "the Second Machine Age," AI is replacing many familiar white collar jobs and threatening to wipe out even more forms of manual labor. The media is full of fear mongering about Artificial Intelligence and jobs. In this session, we'll look at the current state of AI and its impact on the Next Economy.
At the same time as we are seeing great leaps forward in applied AI, we are also seeing technology continue to reinvent manufacturing. We are entering a world of smart stuff, and dumb stuff built with smart tools. And this modern manufacturing revolution is converging with networks of hardware entrepreneurs, new sources of funding, and widely available next generation manufacturing tools.
There are those who say that Uber, TaskRabbit, DoorDash, and other "on demand" companies are leading to a world of continuous partial employment. This may be true, but it is also true that the rise of automated workplace monitoring and scheduling algorithms has done that for virtually all low wage jobs. If the algorithm is the new shift boss, what kind of algorithm do we want running things? We'll delve deep into algorithmic workplace management.
Economist Ronald Coase argued that the modern corporation replaced the Renaissance economy of small businesses and tradesmen because the management overhead of a large firm was lower than the transaction costs between small firms. This logic may be changing in fundamental ways. As Esko Kilpi, one of our speakers, put it, "If the (transaction) costs of exchanging value in the society at large go down drastically as is happening today, the form and logic of economic and organizational entities necessarily need to change! The core firm should now be small and agile, with a large network."
Join us in the Gold Ballroom on Thursday, November 13th for refreshments and networking with other Next:Economy guests.
Networking is the heart of an event like this one. During the long breaks and the gala dinner, you will have a chance to socialize with speakers and fellow attendees. Over dinner, we’ll hear from a special guest, yet to be announced.
Nick Hanauer, investor and entrepreneur, explains why customers, not just entrepreneurs and investors, drive our economy. Even in a world dominated by AI and robots, people will still need to get paid one way or another, or there will be no one to buy products and services. The people will rise up before the robots do!
The old compact between employer and employee that led to lifetime employment and a career ladder at a single company is a thing of the past. Not only that, the idea that you can master the skills of your job and then settle in to doing the same thing for a lifetime seem curiously out of step with the reality of a fast changing world. Individuals must develop a culture of continuous learning, and must, as Reid Hoffman has said, become "the CEOs of their own career."
Luddites have long claimed that technology is a job destroyer. The evidence of rising standards of living around the world says otherwise. Tools that improve worker productivity have historically made us all better off, and there are those who are betting that trend will continue.
The notion that robots and AI may lead to the end of employment as we know it seems far-fetched to many. But scenario planning teaches us to develop strategies that are robust in the face of multiple possible futures, not just the ones that we think are most likely. In this session, we'll explore how to build a human safety net for a world in which amoral, inhuman machines (or institutions) set the agenda, or for a world in which networks, not single organizations amenable to collective bargaining, become a major force in our economy.
There's been a lot of hand wringing about the loss of good middle class jobs in America. But at the same time, it's obvious that there are so many great challenges facing us. As Nick Hanauer says, "we won't run out of jobs till we run out of problems." We need to talk about work, not jobs. What needs doing? How can technology help us do it better? As Alan Kay once said, "It is easier to invent the future than it is to predict it." So what kind of future do we want? What problems should we be focusing on and how can we harness technology to make a better world?
Next: Economy hosts, Tim O’Reilly, Steven Levy and Lauren Smiley close the show.
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