The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation

Brookings Institution Press
Free sample

Looking for ways to handle the transition to a digital economy

Robots, artificial intelligence, and driverless cars are no longer things of the distant future. They are with us today and will become increasingly common in coming years, along with virtual reality and digital personal assistants.

As these tools advance deeper into everyday use, they raise the question—how will they transform society, the economy, and politics? If companies need fewer workers due to automation and robotics, what happens to those who once held those jobs and don't have the skills for new jobs? And since many social benefits are delivered through jobs, how are people outside the workforce for a lengthy period of time going to earn a living and get health care and social benefits?

Looking past today's headlines, political scientist and cultural observer Darrell M. West argues that society needs to rethink the concept of jobs, reconfigure the social contract, move toward a system of lifetime learning, and develop a new kind of politics that can deal with economic dislocations. With the U.S. governance system in shambles because of political polarization and hyper-partisanship, dealing creatively with the transition to a fully digital economy will vex political leaders and complicate the adoption of remedies that could ease the transition pain. It is imperative that we make major adjustments in how we think about work and the social contract in order to prevent society from spiraling out of control.

This book presents a number of proposals to help people deal with the transition from an industrial to a digital economy. We must broaden the concept of employment to include volunteering and parenting and pay greater attention to the opportunities for leisure time. New forms of identity will be possible when the "job" no longer defines people's sense of personal meaning, and they engage in a broader range of activities. Workers will need help throughout their lifetimes to acquire new skills and develop new job capabilities. Political reforms will be necessary to reduce polarization and restore civility so there can be open and healthy debate about where responsibility lies for economic well-being.

This book is an important contribution to a discussion about tomorrow—one that needs to take place today.

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About the author

Darrell M. West is vice president of the Governance Studies program at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of Megachange: Economic Disruption, Political Upheaval, and Social Strife in the 21st Century and Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
May 15, 2018
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Pages
175
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ISBN
9780815732945
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Labor
Education / Adult & Continuing Education
Political Science / Public Policy / Social Policy
Technology & Engineering / Robotics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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"This is teaching at its best!"

--Hans Camenzind, inventor of the 555 timer (the world's most successful integrated circuit), and author of Much Ado About Almost Nothing: Man's Encounter with the Electron (Booklocker.com)

"A fabulous book: well written, well paced, fun, and informative. I also love the sense of humor. It's very good at disarming the fear. And it's gorgeous. I'll be recommending this book highly."

--Tom Igoe, author of Physical Computing and Making Things Talk

Want to learn the fundamentals of electronics in a fun, hands-on way? With Make: Electronics, you'll start working on real projects as soon as you crack open the book. Explore all of the key components and essential principles through a series of fascinating experiments. You'll build the circuits first, then learn the theory behind them!

Build working devices, from simple to complex You'll start with the basics and then move on to more complicated projects. Go from switching circuits to integrated circuits, and from simple alarms to programmable microcontrollers. Step-by-step instructions and more than 500 full-color photographs and illustrations will help you use -- and understand -- electronics concepts and techniques.

Discover by breaking things: experiment with components and learn from failure Set up a tricked-out project space: make a work area at home, equipped with the tools and parts you'll need Learn about key electronic components and their functions within a circuit Create an intrusion alarm, holiday lights, wearable electronic jewelry, audio processors, a reflex tester, and a combination lock Build an autonomous robot cart that can sense its environment and avoid obstacles Get clear, easy-to-understand explanations of what you're doing and why
Big, unexpected changes are here to stay.

Slow, incremental change has become a relic of the past. Today's shifts come fast and big, what Darrell West calls megachanges, in which dramatic disruptions in trends and policies occur on a regular basis.

Domestically, we see megachange at work in the new attitudes and policies toward same-sex marriage, health care, smoking, and the widespread legalization of marijuana use. Globally, we have seen the extraordinary rise and then collapse of the Arab Spring, the emergence of religious zealotry, the growing influence of nonstate actors, the spread of ISIS-fomented terrorism, the rise of new economic and political powers in Asia, and the fracturing of once-stable international alliances.

Long-held assumptions have been shattered, and the proliferation of unexpected events is confounding experts in the United States and around the globe. Many of the social and political institutions that used to anchor domestic and international politics have grown weak or are in need of dramatic reform.

What to do? West says that we should alter our expectations about the speed and magnitude of political and social change. We also need to recognize that many of our current governing processes are geared to slow deliberation and promote incremental change, not large-scale transformation. With megachange becoming the new normal, our domestic and global institutions must develop the ability to tackle the massive economic, political, and social shifts that we face.
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