The remarkable progression of innovations that imbue machines with human and super-human capabilities is generating significant uncertainty and deep anxiety about the future of work. Whether and how our current period of technological disruption differs from prior industrial epochs is a source of vigorous debate. But there is no question that we face an urgent sense of collective concern about how to harness these technological innovations for social benefit. To meet this challenge, the Institute is launching the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future.

The Task Force’s mandate is to address three questions:
1.
How are emerging technologies transforming the nature of human work and the set of skills that enable humans to thrive in the digital economy?
2.
How can we shape and catalyze technological innovation to complement and augment human potential?
3.
How can our civic institutions ensure that the gains from these emerging innovations contribute to equality of opportunity, social inclusion, and shared prosperity?
These questions can be answered only by pairing frontier knowledge of engineering and technology with expertise in the humanities and social sciences, including economics, history, education, business, industrial organization, political science, sociology, anthropology, and public policy. MIT brings depth and breadth in each of these domains. The Work of the Future Task Force will synthesize and interpret our current knowledge, and it will break ground with original research to deepen our understanding of the relationship between technology, work, and society.
Dr. Mindell, an engineer and historian, is Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing at MIT. An expert in human relationships with robotics and autonomous systems, he has led or participated in more than 25 oceanographic expeditions. From 2005 to 2011 he was Director of MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society. He is the author of five books, including Our Robots, Ourselves: Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy (2015) and Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight (2008). He is co-founder of Humatics Corporation, which develops technologies to transform how robots and autonomous systems work in human environments.
Read full bio
Dr. Reynolds is the Executive Director of the MIT Industrial Performance Center and a Lecturer in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Liz works on issues related to systems of innovation, regional economic development and industrial competitiveness. She is a member of the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative as well as the Northeast Clean Energy Council.
Read full bio
David Autor is Ford Professor of Economics and Associate Head of the MIT Department of Economics. His scholarship explores the labor market impacts of technological change and globalization, earnings inequality, and disability insurance and labor supply. Autor has received several awards for his scholarship—the National Science Foundation Career Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the Sherwin Rosen Prize for outstanding contributions in the field of Labor Economics—and for his teaching: MIT’s James A. and Ruth Levitan Award for excellence in teaching, the Undergraduate Economic Association Teaching Award, and the Faculty Appreciation Award from the MIT TPP program. He was recognized by Bloomberg as one of the 50 people who defined global business in 2017.
Read full bio
Dr. Mindell discusses why MIT is launching an initiative on the work of the future.
Dr. Reynolds discusses the focus and work of the Task Force.
Professor Autor discusses changes in technological innovation and how they are affecting work, productivity and income distribution.
The Task Force is comprised of MIT faculty and researchers representing a diverse set of disciplines and perspectives. The Task Force will set the research agenda for this two-and-a-half year effort, creating an interdisciplinary conversation that will link existing and new research on campus. Complementing the research agenda, there will be periodic conferences, speakers, and a set of educational and outreach activities that will engage the MIT community and beyond.
Professor Rahwan discusses how the consequences of the computer revolution impacts the work of the future.
Professor Thelen discusses the emergence of the “gig” economy.
Professor Van Reenen discusses the impacts of technology on society over time.
Professor Leonard talks about self driving cars and their potential impact on society.
Professor Hart speaks to how the digitalization of manufacturing will impact the work of the future.
Professor Jackson talks about how urban spaces may be affected by technological changes.
Professor Walley discusses the human experiences of job change and what anthropology brings to this topic.
The MIT Work of the Future Advisory Board, which is in formation, will be comprised of leaders from industry, academia, labor, government, foundations and others. The advisory board will provide feedback and guidance to the Task Force over the course of the initiative. In addition to the Work of the Future Advisory Board, there will be a WoF Research Advisory Board that includes leading scholars in related fields. The Research Advisory Board will weigh in on research-specific questions and direction.