At the MIT IDE, we are technology optimists. We believe we can shape the future of work to be better than the present by developing inclusive innovations that meaningfully engage all workers. However, “the robots will take our jobs” is a common trope in today’s global conversation. This frequently-expressed viewpoint -- that technology will reduce workers to monotonous drudgery at best and obsolescence at worst -- is damaging and disempowering; this message suggests that our fate is sealed.
We wholeheartedly disagree with this perspective. As Erik Brynolfsson said in his TED talk, “we shape our destiny,” and this is why we launched the Inclusive Innovation Competition. We believe that the future of work can be better for all. With thoughtful inventiveness and entrepreneurial spirit, we can shape and raise the prospects for workers in this Second Machine Age.
But in order to achieve this goal, we need to engage a wide variety of stakeholders who also believe that building a better future is possible. We must tap the research labs, university classrooms, government offices, entrepreneurial ecosystems, and corporate boardrooms where technology is embraced. We also need to engage workers who fear that a computer, robot, or machine could take their jobs. We need to shift the conversation away from fear and toward empowerment, so that together we can design the future of work for all.
The purpose of the Inclusive Innovation Competition, therefore, is two-fold: to improve the future of work for all workers and to shift the conversation toward optimism about the future.
This is a task that requires inclusive effort, so we need you. Help us change the conversation and shape the future. How? Join us!
- Sign up on our website for updates about the Inclusive Innovation Competition. You’ll be among the first to know the details of the competition, which we will reveal in January.
- Share your experiences with us. What workplace innovations have you seen reshape the experience and economic prospects of workers? Tell us your examples in the comments below or reach out to us directly.
- Contact me directly on this site or at the address below to discuss how you and your organization can join the conversation.