The goal of this course is to explore the relationship between new technologies such as AI and robotics, work and society more broadly and develop plans of action for improving the job and career opportunities for today and tomorrow’s workforce. If we take the right actions, we can shape the future of work in ways that meet the needs of workers, families, and their economies and societies. To do so, we first have to understand how work is changing, how firms can compete and prosper and support good jobs and careers, and how to update the policies, institutions, and practices governing the world of work.
We have to understand and better address the deep divisions and inequalities in societies that threaten the future of our economies and democracies. We will address these by using the materials from the course to build a new social contract across business, labor, government, and education. You will shape the features of the new social contract as we go through the course and then vote on how well the overall social contract generated by the class meets your expectations for the future.
We’ll start by tracing the history of work and employment that has made our economies work well in the past. And we’ll uncover what’s gone wrong, in order to figure out new solutions that fit today’s workforce, economy, and society. We’ll look at the impact advances in technology are having across industries, and the ways in which these technologies are transforming the nature of human work and skills needed. We will explore ways in which we as a society can and should shape and catalyze these new technologies to complement and augment human work, rather than replace it. We’ll also take you on a personal journey, where you will learn what employers expect in today’s world of work—the skills, flexibility, and knowledge that are crucial for success in the contemporary workplace. We’ll examine what has to happen in order for employers, workers, governments, and educators to come together to forge new policies, rules, and understandings for governing the world of work in the 21st century.
Many colleagues and groups around the world share our deep concern for these issues and are studying how to address them in their specific settings. We invite each of you to join us and to share your insights and ideas about how we can make work, work better for all in the years ahead. In this spirit we will draw on our own expert group here—our MIT Task Force on Work of the Future. Together we can make a difference for the next generation workforce, our economies, and our societies.