Human capital and the changing nature of work – Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

From The Wall Street Journal 

People have long feared that machines are coming for our jobs. Throughout the Industrial Revolution there were periodic panics about the impact of automation on work, going back to the so-called Luddites, textile workers who in the 1810s smashed the new machines that were threatening their jobs.

Automation anxieties have understandably accelerated in recent years, as our increasingly smart machines are now being applied to activities requiring intelligence and cognitive capabilities that not long ago were viewed as the exclusive domain of humans. But on balance, such fears appear to be unfounded, noted the World Bank in a comprehensive recent report on The Changing Nature of Work. Our problem is not that there won’t be enough work in the future. Our key problem is that, in many countries, the workforce is not prepared for our fast unfolding future.

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In the age of expanding automation, companies must redefine work – Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

From The Wall Street Journal 

Over the past few years, a number of papersreports and books have addressed the future of work, and, more specifically, the impact of artificial intelligence, robotics and other advanced technologies on processes that once fell within the human domain. For the most part, they view AI as mostly augmenting rather than replacing human capabilities, automating the more routine parts of a job and increasing the productivity and quality of workers. Overall, few jobs will be entirely automated, but automation will likely transform the vast majority of occupations.

Case closed, right? Not quite. Given these predictions about the changing nature of work, what should companies do? How should firms prepare for a brave new world where we can expect major economic dislocations along with the creation of new jobs, new business models and whole new industries, and where many people will be working alongside smart machines in whole new ways?

“Underneath the understandable anxiety about the future of work lies a significant missed opportunity,” wrote John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Maggie Wooll in a new report from the Deloitte Center for the Edge, Redefine Work: The untapped opportunity for expanding value. “That opportunity is to return to the most basic question of all: What is work? If we come up with a creative answer to that, we have the potential to create significant new value for the enterprise. And paradoxically, these gains will likely come less from all the new technology than from the human workforce you already have today.”

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Some Good Tech News: Entrepreneurs Leverage Tech for Economic Inclusion – Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

From Wall Street Journal

Between the never-ending stream of news linking bad actors to social networks and studies documenting society’s growing smartphone addiction, it seems almost wrong today to think that technology can — ahem — help make the world a better place.

That’s why I am thankful for the annual Inclusive Innovative Challenge, hosted by MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy. Launched in 2016, the IIC seeks out and awards entrepreneurs that are leveraging technology advances to reinvent the future of work. That’s right. There remains, even in this news cycle, firms committed to tapping technology’s ability to connect–and not divide–people and build–and not threaten–jobs and other economic activities.

Or, as the challenge organizers put it:

“The IIC believes that Inclusive Innovation is an economic and moral imperative, and that the key question of our era isn’t what technology is going to do to our economy and society, but what we will do with technology. By identifying and promoting the powerful global community of future of work visionaries, the IIC proactively accelerates the technology-driven solutions enabling greater economic opportunity for working people around the world facing the challenge of rapidly advancing digital progress.”

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It’s all about business model innovation, not new technology – Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

From The Wall Street Journal

To survive in today’s fast changing marketplace, every business–large or small, startup or long established–must be capable of a continual process of transformation and renewal. Surveys show that most executives agree, and in fact, many believe that business model innovation is even more important to their company’s success than product or service innovation. But other studies have determined that no more than 10% of innovation investments at established companies are focused on creating transformative business models.

This is not surprising. Most successful new business models come from startups. Despite the talent and resources at their disposal, business model success stories from well-established companies are relatively rare.

“Building a great business and operating it well no longer guarantees you’ll be around in a hundred years, or even twenty,” notes business model expert Mark Johnson in his new book, “Reinvent Your Business Model.”

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Blockchain’s potential for environmental applications – Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

From The Wall Street Journal

The World Economic Forum in mid-September released a report examining how blockchain technologies could be harnessed to address serious environmental issues, better manage our shared global environment and help drive sustainable growth and value creation. The report outlined some of the world’s most-pressing environmental challenges and highlighted eight blockchain-based game changers that could lead to transformative solutions to these pressing problems.

“The majority of the world’s current environmental problems can be traced back to industrialization, particularly since the ‘great acceleration’ in global economic activity since the 1950s,” notes the report. “While this delivered impressive gains in human progress and prosperity, it has also led to unintended consequences… research from many Earth-system scientists suggests that life on land could now be entering a period of unprecedented environmental systems change.”

True, blockchain is still in its early stages of development and deployment. Its capabilities have been often oversold, as is the case with just about all promising technologies. But, as the WEF report argues, if blockchain one days lives up to its promise, it could “transform how society operates, becoming one of the most significant innovations since the creation of the internet. The opportunity to harness this innovation to help tackle environmental challenges is equally significant.”

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