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Tune in:- Conversation on Automation

Whitehouse Simine Leiro is speaking to i4j member Robin Chase on Automation and is calling for questions to be answered 

Wondering how driverless cars or chatbot lawyers will change the ways we work and live? Join us for a LIVE White House Conversation on automation.

You’ve seen photos of self-driving cars zooming down California highways and read about lawyers that are actually chatbots. These are some of our first encounters with automation and artificial intelligence (AI). And if you’re wondering how these types of technology will change the ways we work and live, you’re not alone.

There’s no shortage of predictions. Depending on who’s talking, it will be the source of tremendous opportunity or a challenge to even our most basic institutions. In any event, it’s no longer just the stuff of science fiction. Our growing reliance on automation implies some big public policy questions. Some that we’re already grappling with, and others we’ll need to tackle in the coming years.

On Tuesday, July 5, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough will host a conversation with Robin Chase, transportation entrepreneur and author, and Martin Ford, author and futurist, to help shed some light on these issues. They’ll discuss and debate the nuanced aspects of automation, from what it means for jobs to laws to how we spend our days.

Announcing: a White House Conversation on Automation

In addition to the White House Facebook page, you can watch this conversation LIVE on Business Insider’s and Futurism’s pages, on Tuesday at 1:15PM EDT. You can also get ready for the conversation by checking out more information about automation from Futurism

Have a question about automation that you’d like to hear in the conversation? You can join the discussion by submitting your question below.

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Simone Leiro

Assistant Director for Online Engagement
Posted on July 3, 2016

8 responses to “Tune in:- Conversation on Automation”

  1. Ivan Kaye says:

    FWIW, there’s a huge shortage of health care workers, well-trained teachers and the like. But we don’t pay them enough and we don’t train them well. Not all the jobs of the future involve coding or formal creativity. It goes back to focusing on what we do better than machines – acting human. And global sickening, to my mind, is a bigger threat than global warming. We need to pay attention to the sustainability of human bodies. (The Army’s having trouble finding recruits who are healthy – though they don’t help matters by the food they serve in their mess halls!)


  2. Ivan Kaye says:

    Totally agree with you Vint! Also think we need to think about the timing : when we need to start retraining people? We know for example that self driving trucks are hitting roads as we speak. Do we need to start assessing the labor market that will be impacted & educate them before their jobs disappear ? In general there might be a need for a map of upcoming automatons and jobs impacted connected to educational opportunities lined up with the rollout timeline of those technologies .

  3. Ivan Kaye says:

    From David Nordfors

    I would like to ask the White House to look at innovation for jobs, The i4j Book summary is here below – feel free to share..
    The economy is about people needing and wanting each other, so we need innovation that makes people need and want and pay each other more, in better ways than before. We don’t need more innovation that makes people need each other less.

    Also, there is lots of innovation for spending money in ever better ways. That’s very nice, but the problem is, there is almost no innovation for earning money in better ways. That’s where the big need is, so that’s where the big market potential is. It’s not difficult to find paid work today, like Uber, but a good job is very tricky to find, even though all people can create value for each other. Entrepreneurs should compete in solving this problem and build services that offer people good jobs. Today I can get an Uber job. Should not be difficult to create a new service that offers me something better than that. The only thing needed is an algorithm that finds people who need and want me for doing something I find meaningful. Do that, make the match and take a cut. Where there is an unsatisfied need there is a market and this market for good jobs is huge. More about the market opportunity: https://techcrunch.com/2016/03/08/the-future-of-work-is-5-billion-people-looking-for-a-good-job/

    The White House can help make this happen with programs like SBIR, focussed on startups that help people earn better in more meaningful ways.
    They are welcome to join our discussion!
    i4j DC will be on Nov 15 this year (at Google DC).

  4. Ivan Kaye says:

    From Herman Gyr:
    What a fabulous exchange.

    I believe that we can't "remove our dependence on work" as Aleks suggests, but rather our dependence on industrial era type "jobs" — highly structured work within specific functionalities. Humans will continue to work, but work will be profoundly different — as has been discussed in many of this group's conversations and publications. Humans will exist alongside a highly developed ambient non-human intelligence that will do many of the structured tasks industrial-type jobs were designed to do. As this intelligence moves out of our grasp (imagine people looking up from their screens and rediscovering each other!), simply doing what needs doing (often in response to our commands), I foresee a "rehumanizing" of our species, reconnecting with each other about things we care about and want to do together as and among humans. The concept of the "gig economy" is a useful precursor of what this will look like in terms of "work." People will be aware of all the unique skills and interests they have and will offer them up for anyone interested to engage with and pay for. In our industrial era lives, we typically picked one of our skills and made it into a job or a profession, while everything else simply became a hobby. In the new economy, we'll be able to offer up all of our interests and capabilities (eg on platforms like tispr) and "sell" them to those interested. Work won't go away; it will be profoundly reshaped.


  5. Ivan Kaye says:

    Map of jobs/skills + individual capabilities/desires to future jobs should help with training strategies . Proactive vs reactive.
    And yes, Esther – we underpay teachers, nurses knowing the importance & long term sustainability of these jobs – not sure how this can be resolved though …

  6. Ivan Kaye says:

    Herman, Curt, Everyone,
    Re the problem of our emancipation from work, of course, I didn't mean we stop working and sit at home doing nothing. I was refering to the emancipation from wage labor — what you are calling industrial type of work. This is a very actively developing area of "thinking"/discussion/debate.

    Progressive political movements, have fought for equal pay, better work conditions, and the recognition of unpaid work as a valued form of labor. But even they had to accept work as an inevitable activity.

    By taking work as a given, work has been “depoliticized”, i.e. removed it from the realm of political critique.

    Employment is now largely privatized, and work-based activism in many western countries has atrophied. Waged work was accepted as the primary mechanism for income distribution, as an ethical obligation, and as a means of defining ourselves and others as social and political subjects.
    I should remind you that this wasn't always so — it is a relatively new phenomenon, an effect of industrialization.

    In ancient Greece, work was meant for slaves and people without political rights. Because those who are slaves to necessity, were beleived not to able to make unbiase ethical decisions and could not be part of political body.

    The problem of post-wage society is therefore the problem of vocabulary and imagination. We have to develop thinking and ability to imagine and describe the world without wage labor.

    I thought that this is an ideal forum for staring to develop thinking about post-(wage)labor world.

    One vision of postwork society is supposed to allow people to be productive and creative rather than relentlessly bound to the employment relation. Basic income would be the first step in that direction.


  7. Ivan Kaye says:

    As I argue in The Code Economy (forthcoming in January, cover below), the answer to the question “Is there anything that humans can do better than digital computers?” is fairly simple. Humans are better at being human. That is why so much of the discussion on this thread is naturally not about digital technology, but rather about what it means to be human.

    From a policy/White House standpoint, as the contributions to this list have consistently emphasized, metrics of success must necessarily expand to focus at least as much on scale-out innovation as on scale-up innovation–that is, shifting to focus on how innovation creates opportunities for meaningful work and reliable livelihoods for as many people in the economy as seek such work. (More on limits of current metrics here. Bob Cohen has offered great insights to the I4J list on this topic.)

    Scale-out innovations generally take one of four forms:

    Connecting (overcoming information asymmetries that limit access of trained people to existing work opportunities—e.g. platforms like Uber and AirBnB; initiatives to facilitate veteran employment)
    Training (skills mismatch issues—e.g. GeneralAssemb.ly, Code Academy, Girls Who Code; initiatives to create pathways to employment for marginalized youth)
    Localizing/Individualizing (farm-to-table, urban gardening, craft furniture and clothing; initiatives to shift the culture to value authenticity and local production)
    Creating (fundamental novelty—e.g. healthcare to the home, commercial space travel, space mining; initiatives to increase the frequency of novelty in the economy that makes use of new human capabilities)
    Tools available to get to scale-out innovations solutions include:

    Platforms (facilitating connections, fragmenting work, pushing rents to the edge–e.g. Blockchain)
    Analytics (improving understanding)
    Insurance (de-risking the 21st century economy, e.g. Freelancer's Union and, taking a different angle, Guaranteed Minimum Income or an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit)
    Space (creating density, ref cities, libraries, coworking spaces, virtual networks etc)
    Imagination (getting beyond jobs)
    In other words, the future of work is some combination of peer-to-peer, farm-to-table, and Burning Man.

    Philip Auerswald | Co-chair and Executive Director | Global Entrepreneurship Research Network

  8. Ivan Kaye says:

    From Vint Cerf:-

    It's clear that it is possible to be unemployed so employment rates will vary with the demand in the economy for (and ability to consume) products and services. Consumption produces employment in many ways. If manual work is replaced by machine work (think about agriculture), new jobs come along making and maintaining the machines (but maybe not as many jobs). The people filling the new jobs need different skills than the ones filling the old ones. Education and skills training and experience are key elements in transition from one kind of work to another. In the high end, many physicists become computer scientists or chemists or biologists – because all of science is, in some sense, related. Familiarity with new technology often comes, not with formal training, but exposure (at an early age). Look at the kids who are whizzes with mobiles and apps…

    I think an important message, Robin, is to convey that new technology and robotics is not a death knell for workers but it is a clarion call for re-training and continuing education. Innovation creates efficiency and new products/services and concomitant new work. There will always be a cohort that has trouble making the transition and we need safety nets for that.


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