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CASBS Future of Work and Workers Project

What is the future of work? What will be the most consequential changes in the world of work and workers, and what anxieties and possibilities will they produce?

More specifically, are robots going to take over all work? How do we prepare the workforce of the future? How should governments and corporations respond, and what are the models for governance? What creates meaning in a world of temporary work? How will demographics change the future of work?

In the midst of technological, generational, global, and policy changes, the time is now to address these critical questions and many other related ones.

“The Future of Work and Workers,” an ongoing project based at CASBS, explores the sources and implications of the ways in which work is changing globally. The project considers the effect of technological changes, skill preparation, and the norms and practices of different generations and groups throughout the world.

Since 2014 the principal organizers, CASBS director Margaret Levi and technology forecaster/Stanford consulting professor Paul Saffo, have convened working groups at CASBS on several occasions (with more to follow) to explore the issues. Attendees have included journalists, entrepreneurs, foundation officers, and academics from a variety of disciplines.  Among them are current CASBS fellows Natasha Iskander, Louis Hyman, Phyllis Moen, and Maureen Perry-Jenkins; former fellows Katherine Isbister and Margaret O’Mara; former CASBS visiting scholar (and New York Times science writer) John Markoff; CASBS board members John Seely Brown and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar; and Stanford faculty members Woody Powell and Melissa Valentine. The initial meeting was co-sponsored by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, while subsequent meetings have been supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.

The project is much more than a talkfest. Levi envisions output of fruitful research and ideas that warrant the establishment of scholar residencies at CASBS that last from a few weeks to a full academic year.

“The Future of Work and Workers” project also involves a publishing partnership with Pacific Standard. Nearly 100 contributors recruited specifically for the project – business and union leaders, social scientists, technology visionaries, activists, journalists, and public officials – posted articles to a dedicated PS web site page on a near-daily basis beginning in August 2015 and extending through the year, with occasional new articles appearing in 2016. Each article, hyperlinked, also appears with its corresponding author below. The editor of the series is Glenn Kramon, an editor for the New York Times for more than a quarter-century who supervised or edited ten Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters. Among the many authors contributing to the PS series are U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson, Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun, CASBS fellow Yi-Huah Jiang, and several members of “The Future of Work and Workers” project. A book compendium of many of the pieces is under discussion. In addition, the future of work was the cover story for the November/December 2015 print issue of the magazine.

Pacific Standard’s editor-in-chief, Nicholas Jackson, stresses the importance of the collaboration in advancing the discussion.

“The rapidly evolving future of work raises profound questions for our economy and our culture,” said Jackson. We’re thrilled to partner with CASBS for an unprecedented forum, gaining insights from some of the deepest thinkers and hands-on experts.”

The analytics show that the articles have reached (as of February 2016) more than 345,000 viewers, with some of the most popular pieces earning well over a thousand shares on social media platforms. Authors have been interviewed on NPR, C-SPAN and cited by dozens of media outlets. Jackson appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” program to discuss the publishing part of the project.

The future of work and workers received still more attention in April 2016, as part of the final installment of the CASBS 2015-16 public symposium series. On Tuesday, April 19, 2016, CASBS fellows Louis Hyman and Natasha Iskander gave a joint talk on "The History of Catastrophe and the Future of Work," followed by a question and answer session. C-SPAN filmed the symposium for airing at a later date. Learn more about the symposium and watch CASBS full video coverage here.

Iskander’s take on the project provides a clue as to what symposium attendees experienced.

“The future of work and workers project grew out of a concern that we are on the cusp of a major regime change related to work and production,” she says. We are trying to peer over the horizon and interpret how coming technological breakthroughs, environmental changes, and demographic shifts are likely to affect work and the conditions under which it occurs. How these changes play-out is deeply political and directly engages questions of fairness, equity, and justice. A central goal of the project is to protect and strengthen the avenues through which we as workers can use our political voice to shape the changes.”

Articles on "The Future of Work" Published in Pacific Standard



The Future of Work: This Is Your Job in 20 Years

Pacific Standard Staff

The Future of Work: Risk Bearing and Risk Sharing

John Ahlquist

The Future of Work: The Risks of Industrial Globalization

Evangelina Argueta

The Future of Work: The Transformation of Work at the Heart of Middle East Unrest

Ragui Assaad

The Future of Work: Technology, Please Move Faster

Rob Atkinson

The Future of Work: Human Brains Should Make Choices About Artificial Ones

Diane E. Bailey

The Future of Work: Don't Blame the Robots

Dean Baker

The Future of Work: How I Learned the Hard Way What Happened to Vocational Education

Stephen R. Barley

The Future of Work: Making Work Fair—Regulating Labor in the 21st Century

Janine Berg

The Future of Work: Working for the Machine

Michael Bernstein

The Future of Work: Who Will Thrive, and Who Will Not

Jeff Bleich

The Future of Work: The World Needs a New Business Model

Sharan Burrow

The Future of Work: Giving Voice to the Five Percent

Jennifer Chacon

The Future of Work: The Political Work Ahead

Herrick Chapman & Lisabeth Cohen

The Future of Work: Shorter Hours, Higher Pay

Dorothy Sue Cobble

The Future of Work: Can Innovation Escape the Tyranny of the Hierarchy?

Scott Cook

The Future of Work: Workplace Dystopias, and How to Respond

Maggie Corser

The Future of Work: Worlds Apart

Jana Costas & Gideon Kunda

The Future of Work: Will Future Work Be Good for Our Health?

Mark R. Cullen

The Future of Work: Having Our Pie and Eating It Too

Rosanne Currarino

The Future of Work: Making Service Work Pay

Lydia DePillis

The Future of Work: Join the Maker Movement

Dale Dougherty

The Future of Work: Three Ways to Protect the Middle Class

Maria Echaveste

The Future of Work: From Dystopia to Utopia?

Peter Evans & Chris Tilly

The Future of Work: Two Tidal Waves, Headed Our Way

Roger W. Ferguson Jr.

The Future of Work: Unpaid, in Spite of Their Value

Anne Focke

The Future of Work: What If There Isn't One?

Martin Ford

The Future of Work: Why Wage Work Can't Solve the Poverty Problem

Frances Fox Piven

The Future of Work: Who Owns the Robot in Your Future Work Life?

Richard Freeman

The Future of Work: China's Own Migrant Challenge

Mary E. Gallagher

The Future of Work: Caring for the Crowdworker Going It Alone

Mary L. Gray

The Future of Work: Stagnation, Automation ... Frustration

Steven Greenhouse

The Future of Work: Manufacturing Is Now for the Robots; the Middle Class Needs More

Ryan Harper

The Future of Work: Preparing Students for a Changing World of Work

Freeman A. Hrabowski III

The Future of Work: Appeasing the Angry Manufacturing Worker

Silja Hausermann

The Future of Work: The Second Industrious Revolution

Louis Hyman

The Future of Work: Creative Destruction and the New World of Work

John Irons

The Future of Work: Designing Technology That Makes Us Feel Better at Work

Katherine Isbister

The Future of Work: 19th-Century Brutality, in the 21st Century

Natasha Iskander

The Future of Work: Managing the Benefits and Risks of Artificial Intelligence

Neil Jacobstein

The Future of Work: What Politicians Should Know

Yi-huah Jiang

The Future of Work: We Need to Protect Immigrant Workers

Kevin R. Johnson

The Future of Work: A Living Wage and Freedom for Today's Slaves

Katherine R. Jolluck

The Future of Work: Independence and Flexibility

Travis Kalanick

The Future of Work: A Proposal for the Age of Automation—Turn Workers Into Investors

Jerry Kaplan

The Future of Work: Innovate in India

Amita Katragadda

The Future of Work: A Call to Collective Action

Thomas A. Kochan

The Future of Work: The (Excessive) Power of Finance

Mike Konczal

The Future of Work: Stop the Stealing and Pay Us for Our Online Data

Jaron Lanier

The Future of Work: A Future Like the Past

Margaret Levi

The Future of Work: The Three Dimensions of Artificial Intelligence

Frank Levy

The Future of Work: What Isn’t Counted Counts

Karen Levy

The Future of Work: To Help Workers, Fix Our Community Colleges

Josh Lewis

The Future of Work: Encouraging Employers to Train Workers

Nichola J. Lowe

The Future of Work: With Us, or Against Us?

John Markoff

The Future of Work: Exploring the Quality of Work

Ann Markusen

The Future of Work: Stemming the Rise of Bad Jobs

Harold Meyerson

The Future of Work: The Forces Against Organized Labor

Ruth Milkman

The Future of Work: The Rise and Fall of the Job

Bethany Moreton

The Future of Work: Re-Defining the Workplace

Jacob Morgan

The Future of Work: Automation's Effect on Jobs—This Time Is Different

Nils J. Nilsson

The Future of Work: The Technology Industry Is Changing the Rules

Margaret O'Mara

The Future of Work: The Trouble With Shrinking Governments Worldwide

Roberto Pires

The Future of Work: The Coming Political Storms

Charles Postel

The Future of Work: For Uber Drivers, Data Is the Boss

Alex Rosenblat

The Future of Work: We Have Been Here Before

Paul Saffo

The Future of Work: Owning What We Share

Nathan Schneider

The Future of Work: The People's Uber

Trebor Scholz

The Future of Work: Consider the Changing Climate

Juliet B. Schor

The Future of Work: A Nightmare Scenario—and Three Things That Might Prevent It

Andrew Schrank

The Future of Work: Navigating the Whitewater

John Seely Brown

The Future of Work: Which Seeds We Plant

J. Robert Shull

The Future of Work: Can Minority Americans Shift the Labor Debate to the Left?

Greg Segura

The Future of Work: Addressing the Global Crisis of Youth Unemployment

Calvin Sims

The Future of Work: The Water Cooler and the Fridge

Mario L. Small

The Future of Work: Why Wages Aren't Keeping Up

Robert Solow

The Future of Work: Machines Pulling Ahead, Quickly

Sebastian Thrun

The Future of Work: The Digital Hustle

Julie Ticona

The Future of Work: Labor Law Must Catch Up

Richard Trumka

The Future of Work: But What Will Humans Do?

Moshe Y. Vardi

The Future of Work: Working With Constant Connectivity

Judy Wajcman

The Future of Work: In a World Full of Information, Many Gaps

D.A. Wallach

The Future of Work: Challenges—and Opportunities—for Washington

Mark R. Warner

The Future of Work: Organize the Immigrant Workers

Kent Wong

The Future of Work: Uniting Workers in the Gigging Economy

Frances Zlotnick

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