Will Future Technology Create More Jobs Than It Replaces?

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The Millennium Project Launches Future Work/Technology 2050: A Global Project on Scenarios and Strategies to Address Future Dynamics of Work and Technology

2013-14 State of the Future

2013-2014 State of the Future

Whether AI does or does not become the nightmare of some science fiction, we are certain it will have fundamental impacts on the nature of work, worldwide.

Stephen Hawkins, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates are warning the world about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence (AI) growing beyond human control. “Whether AI does or does not become the nightmare of some science fiction, we are certain it will have fundamental impacts on the nature of work, worldwide. And the world needs to think seriously about this now, because it may take a generation or more to make serious changes necessary to improve our work-technology future prospects,” says Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project. “A growing body of AI experts believes that if socio-political-economic systems stay the same, and technological acceleration, integration, and globalization continue, then half the world could be unemployed by 2050.”

“One of the jobs of a futurist is to give early warnings so that we have sufficient time to figure out what to do to prevent a potential disaster,” says Elizabeth Florescu, Director of Research at The Millennium Project. “How might AI, robotics, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, the Internet of Things, drones, 3D/4D printing, and other future technologies change the nature of work, and economics in general?” To begin to answer this, experts and others with insight will be invited by The Millennium Project’s 55 Nodes around the world to share their thoughts through the Future Work/Technology 2050 Real-Time Delphi study.

Some questions drawn from the forthcoming Real-Time Delphi Questionnaire to be launched at the end of this month include:

  •      What questions have to be resolved to answer whether AI, robotics, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, the Internet of Things, drones, 3D/4D printing, and other future technologies will create more jobs than they eliminate?
  •      What actions will be the most effective in creating new work and/or income to address technological unemployment?
  •      Will wealth from advanced technologies continue to accumulate income to the very wealthy, increasing the income gaps?
  •      Will some form of guaranteed income be necessary to end poverty, reduce inequality, and address technological unemployment?
  •      Will the cost of living be significantly reduced by 2050 due to future forms of AI robotic and nanotech manufacturing, 3D/4D printing, future Internet services, and other future production and distribution systems?

The results will be used to create alternative work/technology scenarios 2050. These scenarios will be used to identify strategies to be assessed in national workshops initiated worldwide by the 55 Millennium Project Nodes.

The Millennium Project is a global participatory think tank connecting 55 Nodes around the world that identify important long-range challenges and strategies, and initiate and conduct foresight studies, workshops, symposiums, and advanced training. Its mission is to improve thinking about the future and make it available through a variety of media for feedback to accumulate wisdom about the future for better decisions today. It produces the annual "State of the Future" reports, the "Futures Research Methodology" series, the Global Futures Intelligence System (GFIS), and special studies. Over 4,500 futurists, scholars, business planners, and policy makers who work for international organizations, governments, corporations, NGOs, and universities have participated in The Millennium Project’s research, since its inception, in 1992. The Millennium Project was selected among the top ten think tanks in the world for new ideas and paradigms by the 2013 and 2014 University of Pennsylvania’s GoTo Think Tank Index, and 2012 Computerworld Honors Laureate for its contributions to collective intelligence systems.

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Jerome Glenn
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