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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 YearsPacific Standard Staff
The Future of Work: Risk Bearing and Risk SharingJohn Ahlquist
The Future of Work: The Risks of Industrial GlobalizationEvangelina Argueta
The Future of Work: The Transformation of Work at the Heart of Middle East UnrestRagui Assaad
The Future of Work: Technology, Please Move FasterRob Atkinson
The Future of Work: Human Brains Should Make Choices About Artificial OnesDiane E. Bailey
The Future of Work: Don't Blame the RobotsDean Baker
The Future of Work: How I Learned the Hard Way What Happened to Vocational EducationStephen R. Barley
The Future of Work: Making Work Fair—Regulating Labor in the 21st CenturyJanine Berg
The Future of Work: Working for the MachineMichael Bernstein
The Future of Work: Who Will Thrive, and Who Will NotJeff Bleich
The Future of Work: The World Needs a New Business ModelSharan Burrow
The Future of Work: Giving Voice to the Five PercentJennifer Chacon
The Future of Work: The Political Work AheadHerrick Chapman & Lisabeth Cohen
The Future of Work: Shorter Hours, Higher PayDorothy 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 RespondMaggie Corser
The Future of Work: Worlds ApartJana 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 TooRosanne Currarino
The Future of Work: Making Service Work PayLydia DePillis
The Future of Work: Join the Maker MovementDale Dougherty
The Future of Work: Three Ways to Protect the Middle ClassMaria Echaveste
The Future of Work: From Dystopia to Utopia?Peter Evans & Chris Tilly
The Future of Work: Two Tidal Waves, Headed Our WayRoger W. Ferguson Jr.
The Future of Work: Unpaid, in Spite of Their ValueAnne 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 ProblemFrances 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 ChallengeMary E. Gallagher
The Future of Work: Caring for the Crowdworker Going It AloneMary L. Gray
The Future of Work: Stagnation, Automation ... FrustrationSteven Greenhouse
The Future of Work: Manufacturing Is Now for the Robots; the Middle Class Needs MoreRyan Harper
The Future of Work: Preparing Students for a Changing World of WorkFreeman A. Hrabowski III
The Future of Work: Appeasing the Angry Manufacturing WorkerSilja Hausermann
The Future of Work: The Second Industrious RevolutionLouis Hyman
The Future of Work: Creative Destruction and the New World of WorkJohn Irons
The Future of Work: Designing Technology That Makes Us Feel Better at WorkKatherine Isbister
The Future of Work: 19th-Century Brutality, in the 21st CenturyNatasha Iskander
The Future of Work: Managing the Benefits and Risks of Artificial IntelligenceNeil Jacobstein
The Future of Work: What Politicians Should KnowYi-huah Jiang
The Future of Work: We Need to Protect Immigrant WorkersKevin R. Johnson
The Future of Work: A Living Wage and Freedom for Today's SlavesKatherine R. Jolluck
The Future of Work: Independence and FlexibilityTravis Kalanick
The Future of Work: A Proposal for the Age of Automation—Turn Workers Into InvestorsJerry Kaplan
The Future of Work: Innovate in IndiaAmita Katragadda
The Future of Work: A Call to Collective ActionThomas A. Kochan
The Future of Work: The (Excessive) Power of FinanceMike Konczal
The Future of Work: Stop the Stealing and Pay Us for Our Online DataJaron Lanier
The Future of Work: A Future Like the PastMargaret Levi
The Future of Work: The Three Dimensions of Artificial IntelligenceFrank Levy
The Future of Work: What Isn’t Counted CountsKaren Levy
The Future of Work: To Help Workers, Fix Our Community CollegesJosh Lewis
The Future of Work: Encouraging Employers to Train WorkersNichola J. Lowe
The Future of Work: With Us, or Against Us?John Markoff
The Future of Work: Exploring the Quality of WorkAnn Markusen
The Future of Work: Stemming the Rise of Bad JobsHarold Meyerson
The Future of Work: The Forces Against Organized LaborRuth Milkman
The Future of Work: The Rise and Fall of the JobBethany Moreton
The Future of Work: Re-Defining the WorkplaceJacob Morgan
The Future of Work: Automation's Effect on Jobs—This Time Is DifferentNils J. Nilsson
The Future of Work: The Technology Industry Is Changing the RulesMargaret O'Mara
The Future of Work: The Trouble With Shrinking Governments WorldwideRoberto Pires
The Future of Work: The Coming Political StormsCharles Postel
The Future of Work: For Uber Drivers, Data Is the BossAlex Rosenblat
The Future of Work: We Have Been Here BeforePaul Saffo
The Future of Work: Owning What We ShareNathan Schneider
The Future of Work: The People's UberTrebor Scholz
The Future of Work: Consider the Changing ClimateJuliet B. Schor
The Future of Work: A Nightmare Scenario—and Three Things That Might Prevent ItAndrew Schrank
The Future of Work: Navigating the WhitewaterJohn Seely Brown
The Future of Work: Which Seeds We PlantJ. 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 UnemploymentCalvin Sims
The Future of Work: The Water Cooler and the FridgeMario L. Small
The Future of Work: Why Wages Aren't Keeping UpRobert Solow
The Future of Work: Machines Pulling Ahead, QuicklySebastian Thrun
The Future of Work: The Digital HustleJulie Ticona
The Future of Work: Labor Law Must Catch UpRichard Trumka
The Future of Work: But What Will Humans Do?Moshe Y. Vardi
The Future of Work: Working With Constant ConnectivityJudy Wajcman
The Future of Work: In a World Full of Information, Many GapsD.A. Wallach
The Future of Work: Challenges—and Opportunities—for WashingtonMark R. Warner
The Future of Work: Organize the Immigrant WorkersKent Wong
The Future of Work: Uniting Workers in the Gigging EconomyFrances Zlotnick

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