Friday, January 22, 2021

g-f(2)87 THE BIG PICTURE OF THE DIGITAL AGE, MIT, Six big conclusions outline route toward better jobs, wider prosperity.



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MIT News, Report outlines route toward better jobs, wider prosperity
MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future identifies ways to align new technologies with durable careers.
  • Decades of technological change have polarized the earnings of the American workforce, helping highly educated white-collar workers thrive, while hollowing out the middle class. 
  • With better policies in place, more people could enjoy good careers even as new technology transforms workplaces.
  • At the core of the task force’s findings: A robot-driven jobs apocalypse is not on the immediate horizon. 
  • “The sky is not falling, but it is slowly lowering,” says David Autor, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT, associate head of MIT’s Department of Economics, and a co-chair of the task force. “We need to respond. The world is gradually changing in very important ways, and if we just keep going in the direction we’re going, it is going to produce bad outcomes.”

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Condensed knowledge  

  • Decades of technological change have polarized the earnings of the American workforce, helping highly educated white-collar workers thrive, while hollowing out the middle class. 
  • With better policies in place, more people could enjoy good careers even as new technology transforms workplaces.
  • At the core of the task force’s findings: A robot-driven jobs apocalypse is not on the immediate horizon. 
  • “The sky is not falling, but it is slowly lowering,” says David Autor, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT, associate head of MIT’s Department of Economics, and a co-chair of the task force. “We need to respond. The world is gradually changing in very important ways, and if we just keep going in the direction we’re going, it is going to produce bad outcomes.”
  • The task force aimed “to move past the hype about what [technologies] might be here, and now we’re looking at what can we feasibly do to move things forward for workers,” says Elisabeth Beck Reynolds, executive director of the task force as well as executive director of the MIT Industrial Performance Center.
    • “We looked across a range of industries and examined the numerous factors — social, cognitive, organizational, economic — that shape how firms adopt technology.”
  • “We want to inject into the public discourse a more nuanced way of talking about technology and work,” adds David Mindell, task force co-chair, professor of aeronautics and astronautics, and the Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing at MIT. “It’s not that the robots are coming tomorrow and there’s nothing we can do about it. Technology is an aggregate of human choices.”
  • Six big conclusions. The task force, an Institute-wide group of scholars and researchers, spent over two years studying work and technology in depth. The final report presents six overarching conclusions and a set of policy recommendations. 
    • Big conclusion 1.  Technological change is simultaneously replacing existing work and creating new work. It is not eliminating work altogether. 
      • Since 1978, aggregate U.S. productivity has risen by 66 percent, while compensation for production and nonsupervisory workers has risen by only 10 percent. Wage gaps also exist by race and gender, and cities do not provide the “escalator” to the middle class they once did.
    • Big conclusion 2. Momentous impacts of technological change are unfolding gradually.
      • Time and again, media coverage about technology and jobs focuses on dramatic scenarios in which robots usurp people, and we face a future without work.
      • The task force report surveys technology adoption in industries including insurance, health care, manufacturing, and autonomous vehicles, finding growth in “narrow” AI systems that complement workers.
    • Big conclusion 3. Rising labor productivity has not translated into broad increases in incomes because societal institutions and labor market policies have fallen into disrepair.
      • The task force argues for institutional innovations that complement technological change.
    • Big conclusion 4. Improving the quality of jobs requires innovation in labor market institutions. 
      • The task force contends the U.S. needs to modernize labor policies on several fronts, including restoring the federal minimum wage to a reasonable percentage of the national median wage and, crucially, indexing it to inflation. 
      • The report also suggests upgrading unemployment insurance in several ways.
    • Big conclusion 5. Fostering opportunity and economic mobility necessitates cultivating and refreshing worker skills. 
      • Technological advancement may often be incremental, but changes happen often enough that workers’ skills and career paths can become obsolete. 
      • U.S. workers need more opportunities to add new skills.
      • The greatest needs are among workers without four-year college degrees. 
    • Big conclusion 6. Investing in innovation will drive new job creation, speed growth, and meet rising competitive challenges.
      • Given the significance of innovation to job and wealth creation, the report calls for increased overall federal research funding; targeted assistance that helps small- and medium-sized businesses adopt technology; policies creating a wider geographical spread of innovation in the U.S.; and policies that enhance investment in workers, not just capital, including the elimination of accelerated capital depreciation claims.

Category 2: The Big Picture of the Digital Age

[genioux fact produced, deduced or extracted from MIT]

Type of essential knowledge of this “genioux fact”: Essential Deduced and Extracted Knowledge (EDEK).

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  • Inherited from sources + Supported by the knowledge of one or more experts + Supported by a research.


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Fernando Machuca


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