Tag Archives: economy

My u.lab learning journey at Boston’s Hubweek

I am currently taking the edX course “u.lab: Leading from the Emerging Future.” One of the choices for the week 2 assignment was to take a learning or sensing journey, which is defined like this:

Sensing journeys pull participants out of their daily routine and allow them to experience the organization, challenge, or system through the lens of different stakeholders. Sensing journeys bring participants to places, people, and experiences that are most relevant for the respective question they are working on.

IMG_0649I chose to make Boston’s Hubweek my u.lab learning journey. Hubweek is, “A weeklong celebration of innovation and creativity in Greater Boston, founded by MIT, Harvard, Mass General and The Boston Globe.” This blog post is a slightly edited version of the journal entry I wrote to complete the assignment. I went to dinner this past Friday with friends and one was so genuinely interested in my Hubweek experience that I decided to publish it here for her and others to read.

There is no question in my mind that Entrepreneurship is on the rise and people are looking to engage with emerging technologies in new ways. In my view, a subtle shift has also taken place: the libertarian / Ayn Rand vibe, where the focus of every start-up was “getting rich,” has transformed into discussions of inclusion, community, sustainability and impact. Although everyone may not appreciate the accelerating nature of technological development (artificial intelligence, genetics, robotics and others are called “exponential technologies”), there was surely an awareness that the ground is shifting under our feet and the only solution is to adapt together.

Monday began in Roxbury, which is one of the most economically challenged sections of Boston. Nevertheless, the event was hosted in a new “innovation center” where teams of high school students were showing off their innovations and talking about their plans to start a business. One young man was such a good salesman that I bought his product: a simple rubber holder for an eyeglass wipe that can attach to a belt or key chain. I keep it in my car now. A young woman had studied the use of sunlight to fight depression in the winter and was showing off a window valence for a bedroom with a built-in full spectrum light (patent pending). I learned about BUILD, which is, “dedicated to proving the power of experiential learning through entrepreneurship, and igniting the potential of youth in under-resourced communities.” I talked to the people at the booth, and was struck by a couple of facts: 1) 97% of kids who graduate from Build’s 4-year program graduate from HS on time, and 2) 95% are accepted to college. This is impressive considering that all these kids remain in public school, significant since the charter school question is on the Massachusetts ballot this November. I also ran into NuVu Studio, which is an educational program based on the studio model. This school sounds interesting and MIT News answered a question on my mind:

Such programs are difficult to implement broadly, Arida (NuVu Studio founder & MIT alumnus) admits, and private institutions tend to favor them, rather than public schools. But this fall, NuVu is entering its first public-school partnership, with Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, which will send 10 students for the entire semester — and those 10 students will earn credit. It’s a step in the right direction, Arida says.

Starting on Tuesday, I was joined by my friend, Chitra Dwarka, which made attending the events even more fun. We began at “Expanding Opportunity in the Digital Age,” hosted by Hubweek, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (MIT_IDE) and MIT Solve. Leading the discussion were Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew Mcafee, authors of The Second Machine Age (a book I reviewed in detail back in 2014). Given that MIT_IDE is a sponsor of the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium (Chitra and I are both on the organizing team), and the background reading that I’ve done, I felt more or less at home with the topics and messages in this session. What struck me most was the parallel goals between this session and the one in Roxbury, yet the very different vibe, academic reasoning vs. in the trenches transformation. For example, “inclusion” was a topic at both events (and a topic that came up later in the week); MIT_IDE sponsored an Inclusive Innovation Competition to, “inspire and reward entrepreneurial solutions that enhance the economic prospects of workers in the Second Machine Age.” The Boston Globe reported on the winners. Some of the organizations represented at this talk were The Joyce Foundation, which strives to “develop and advance policy reforms that promise to improve quality of life, promote community vitality, and strive for a fair society,” and Opportunity@Work, which is “dedicated to re-wiring the labor market so that all Americans can work, learn, and earn to their full potential.”

One track that I did not make was MIT Solve, which is described as, “an organism for solving the world’s most challenging problems.” Looking at the website, the mission and tracks remind me of Singularity University (I attended the summit in San Francisco this past August). Although I did not make any events during HubWeek, I signed up for the newsletter and will keep my eye out for future events.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went to the Broad Institute, “a collaborative community pioneering a new model of biomedical science.” They hosted a talk about the intersection of art and science and they have an artist in residence, Naoe Suzuki, who engages with the scientists. I was really impressed with how Naoe looked at science through the lens of an artist, for example, transforming whiteboard scribbles (equations and diagrams) into an artistic collage. She is also crowdsourcing her investigation into our relationship with water, and you can participate here. I’ll highlight a few other points from this discussion. Naoe’s perspective of exponential technologies is the compression of time, although it is an emerging thought for her. All the speakers noted that the processes of innovation are not that different between art and science. Finally, one person said that, as scientific data became more freely available on the web, the term “data parasites” emerged to describe researchers who leveraged this data to make new discoveries. Get your own data, said some. But, that position has been rebuffed as the larger community has asserted that freely available data sparks discovery.

Next, I went down the street to the Venture Cafe to hear a talk on, “Driving Startup Growth: Building an Innovation Ecosystem.” I’m familiar with this group as they hold a networking night every Thursday (very valuable, but fast paced, so you need to go with a clear objective in mind). The importance of ecosystems, as well as ESOs (entrepreneurial support organizations), were discussed at length. One of the speakers was Banu Ozkazanc-Pan, who is a researcher on the topic of inclusive organizations (and will be releasing a report by the end of the year). One of the interesting things that she said was that start-ups need to think about diversity prior to hiring employee #9. After that, the mold is set and hard to undo. Opening the lens a bit, other threats to the innovation ecosystem discussed were inequality, climate change, culture. Tim Rowe, CEO of Cambridge Innovation Center, said that, by far, the most net new jobs in the US are created by startups (see the pic here).

On Wednesday, I joined Chitra for a single late event, the Benton Throwdown, which features student teams, representing 10+ local colleges and universities, that have created start-ups. Audience members hear 3-minute pitches from each and then vote using monopoly money. Winners are announced at the end. The evening began with a bit of sage advice from venture capitalists — think of getting money as a sales process (don’t cold e-mail investors), they see proposals every day (don’t ask them to sign an NDA) and be sure to tell them what the future holds and why you believe in it. The winner of the contest was “Ask Molly” (MA College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences), which is a database of illicit substances and describes interactions with prescription drugs. The second place team was “DropZone” (Babson College), which is a search engine for Vets to ensure that they get all the benefits they deserve. The third place team was “Echo Me” (Boston College), which is an in-sync music service (you can subscribe to the music someone else is listening to). Other projects were also notable, but I won’t go through them all.

By Thursday I was getting tired, and almost decided to stay home, but pulled on my energy reserves to go to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to hear “The Hype and Promise of Blockchain.” On my way, I got a message from Chitra, who decided to go with her friend Steve, who works in the financial industry. That was lucky because I was late and they saved me a seat in the second row (the room was packed). Tom Ashbrook, from WBUR, led a panel discussion. A key point, predictable in many ways, was that banks like to talk about blockchain, but no one wants to be the first to adopt it: current systems work, so they are not motivated to risk switching. Nobody on stage wanted to stick their neck out and assert that block chain would transform our economy and society. As a counterpoint, watch this TED talk that I posted on my Facebook page almost a month ago. In fairness, the speaker in this talk wrote a book, but still I feel that the panel speakers were erring on the conservative side. Regardless of one’s level optimism, this is an important topic. My prediction is that this technology will not enter the mainstream via Bitcoin, or the banks, but rather will rise somewhere else, where there is less resistance. It is imperative that it does.

Besides the panel, there were a number of very good speakers. Anders Brownworth, who teaches Blockchain at MIT, did an excellent job explaining the fundamentals of blockchain, along with an online demo (try it yourself via this link). Chelsea Barabas, head of social innovation, digital currencies, MIT Media lab, made a lot of good points about how this technology would impact society (similar points are made by Don Tapscott in the TED talk). Her main story, that I liked, was about how the internet as started as a democratic constellation of people publishing their content, became a place where a few big players (Banks, Media, Google, Facebook, etc.) have too much control and may evolve into something very different — a place where people in the future will share power and control. This is of great importance as millions of people come online in coming years. Finally, I want to shine a light on Ariel Ekblaw, a graduate research assistant at the MIT media lab. She is a very impressive young women, working to use blockchain to make it easier to share medical records while ensuring patient privacy (abstract of her paper here). One last call out goes to Nimit Sawhney, CEO of Voatz, which is a blockchain powered mobile voting app. There were other speakers, but these were the best, in my opinion.

Hubweek ended for me at Demo Day at the Hynes Convention Center, which was a gathering of the “highest impact start-ups and companies” in the Boston area. I went to a talk about “Strategies to Accelerate Growth,” which was hosted by the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program. As it turns out, IBM has a blockchain offering for start-ups. I talked with the folks on the panel (and it eventually came out that I’m an ex-IBMer), got on their mailing list, and got a few pointers to educational materials. The core of their educational offerings is on the developerWorks portal (in my case the Architecture Center was of particular interest). The developerWorks portal hosts a variety of online education classes, including one for blockchain. Unlike Microsoft, IBM does not participate in mainstream MOOCs, such as edX and Coursera, which I think is unfortunate as I’ve found Microsoft’s data science curriculum on edX to be outstanding. Nevertheless, the IBM team did tell me of Coursera offering for blockchain, by Princeton University.

In the expo, there were lots of start-ups, and I will highlight a couple. To begin, there was Cambridge Blockchain, offering a blockchain platform. I did not talk to them, but I imagine many start-ups popping up, along with open source solutions. Of specific interest to me was Voatz, which is a blockchain based mobile voting app. The founder of this company spoke at the blockchain event on Thursday, so I was excited to meet him in person. I took an entrepreneurship class some months ago and had to make a list of 10 possible innovations for an assignment. Here’s an excerpt from the note I made to myself, “An app that provides secure and reliable voting from your mobile device; eliminates the need to visit the voting booth. Leverages technology from cyber currency. The benefits are obvious and there is a lot of desire.” Imagine how interesting it was for me to talk to an entrepreneur who had a similar thought, fully developed it, and now has a viable implementation! Nimit added me to his list of beta testers, so I’ll be able to try his app during the November elections. How much fun! Another app in this space is We the People, which attempts to increase voter participation. I’ve already downloaded it to my phone. Add these two start-ups that want to improve democracy to the three that I met at the Singularity University Summit and it becomes clear that change is in the air.

In conclusion, a lot of new voices have been added to my Twitter and Feedly feeds. These are exciting times and I’m glad to part of a movement to reimagine our economy and future. All I can say is that there are a lot of smart and inspiring people out there. 

Working till 2025: Crossing the Bridge

We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light a candle that can guide us through the darkness to a safe and sure future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do.” — John F. Kennedy

In the “introduction” to this series, I said that I “visualize myself running across a wood plank footbridge that is collapsing behind me: to remain working I must continuously stay one step ahead of rapidly changing economic conditions.” I also said that this series was not going to Foot_bridge_Bahia_Drakebe all about doom and gloom, yet you may feel that I’ve laid out a pretty bleak picture of both the current and future jobs situation. Before talking about the benefits of this new digital age, let me briefly discuss where we’ve been. In the second post, “past economic trends,” I introduced the raging debate among economists about the influence technology has on the economy. I showed that the historic trend, of wages tracking productivity, began breaking down in 1975. Since then, productivity has continued to climb, but wages have remained flat, except for workers with the highest skill levels. Also, demand is up for workers at the two ends of the spectrum, high and low skills, but down for the large pool of people who are middle skilled. In the third post, “life is tough these days,” I told you many things that you likely already knew: unemployment remains high, the labor participation rate is declining, long-term unemployment is a trap, average household income is falling, and it really does not feel like the recession has been over for more than four years. Also, I tried to cut through the noise of monthly labor reports, and define a macro trend for the “at risk” population (people who are suffering from unemployment, involuntary part-time employment, or underemployment). My conclusion was that one-third of the potentially working population is at risk, and the numbers are rising. In the fourth post, “the digital revolution,” I explained why I believe that technology is driving a historic shift, one that is at least as significant as the industrial revolution, and one that will happen with great speed. I ended with a study, featured on the London School of Economics and Political Science Blog, that concluded that computerization threatens about 50% of current occupations in the U.S. Maybe new occupations will emerge, but I think I’ve made a good case that many people will find the transition phase unpleasant.

I’ve dedicated this last post in the series to crossing the bridge. What do I mean by this, and why do I think it will take so long? First, I expect poor economic conditions to continue. Paul Krugman recently wrote a column, “A Permanent Slump?“, where he asked “What if depression-like conditions are on track to persist, not for another year or two, but for decades?” He calls this “secular stagnation,” a persistent state in which a depressed economy is the norm. Krugman notes that if consumer demand remains weak, unemployment will remain high. He suggests possible macroeconomic reasons, including slowing population growth and persistent trade deficits. He does not mention technology, so let’s put that to the side for the moment. The point is that the economy is not likely to recovery soon. Second, zealots will continue to make it difficult to govern, and so it will be hard to put policies in place to solve these economic problems. Consider that a minority party forced a government shutdown, blocked judicial appointments, and, at the state level, has led a campaign against workers (including efforts to limit or restrict sick leave, workplace safety standards, time for meals, child labor standards, and minimum wage). Third, while these problems are happening, we will enter the digital age where about half of current U.S. occupations will be under threat of computerization. Economic issues, government challenges, and technological changes will make getting to the other side of the bridge quite challenging.

What will a prosperous twenty-first century economy look like? I don’t know the answer to that question, but, more importantly, I don’t believe that economists know either. One narrative is that macroeconomic principles will play out as they always have in the past. New occupations will emerge to replace those that have become obsolete, and we’ll return to rising productivity and full employment. An alternative narrative says that, as we continue to transform from connected regional economies to an integrated world economy, the dynamics of the economy will change. Our experiences from the past won’t guide us to accurate predictions about the future. Our economy will have become a single closed system where it may no longer be possible for the U.S. to have continuously increasing productivity, and the full employment that went along with it. Economists may need to build new models for the twenty-first century economy, and we may need to reconsider the nature of work itself.

The Next Enlightened Age

Regardless of how the economists settle this debate, this new technological age is a great opportunity. Many authors have suggested that we can, if we choose, enter into an age of abundance and sustainability. For instance, Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler offer an optimistic view of the future in their book Abundance, The Future is Better Than You Think.  The technology that is coming will give us the opportunity to solve massive problems, including poverty, disease, climate change, and more. But, technology alone is no silver bullet. We need to re-think our core principles and figure out how to build a sustainable economy. Exponential growth cannot continue forever; we need to imagine a steady state that provides security, opportunity and prosperity to everyone.

We need a society where the workforce is fluid, and people can easily move between jobs. Switzerland is considering a proposal to give every citizen a basic income, no strings attached. I think this idea is worth more study. Some worry about the cost, not to mention creating a disincentive to work. But, perhaps those worries are overblown. Perhaps people would be more willing to take risks, and become entrepreneurs, if we guaranteed everyone a minimum income. If people had dignity and security, perhaps they could walk away from low-end jobs unless the employer offered fair pay and good working conditions. They would not have to accept such jobs just to survive. There is conservative appeal to this idea as well: it would replace many government programs, especially if it was simple and had no needs testing. If people had basic income (for security and dignity), had access to health insurance (regardless of their employment situation), and could get any level of education (without going into debt), then we would curb poverty and enable the workforce to thrive in the twenty-first century. People, if standing on a solid foundation, might be able to take part in “free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit” (Ayn Rand) as libertarians and others so want.

Maybe these predictions are overly optimistic (many authors also write about a future that is a dystopia), but if you believe that the result will largely depend on the choices we make, then I see no reason not to hold out hope and fight for the better outcome. An essay in the Weekly Sift discusses how Nate Silver made the interesting observation that the printing press led to the enlightenment, but only after 300 years of polarization and war. Silver says that when initially faced with information overload that we “engage with it selectively, picking out the parts we like and ignoring the remainder, making allies with those who have made the same choices and enemies of the rest.” Silver goes on to draw a parallel to the rise of the internet, observing that the information overload has led to polarization in our time. As the digital revolution unfolds, I am hopeful that the outcome will be another period of enlightenment. I am also hopeful that, like the pace of technology, the pace of history will be much faster this time. There will be plenty of time to think about what the world, and the economy, will look like beyond 2025. I will, however, close this series by considering just the transition period.

Timeline to 2025

Let me show, as a context, how computers will advance. You likely use a device with a microprocessor based on 22 nanometer technology; the first such microprocessor came out in 2011. Intel plans to ship 14 nanometer technology in laptops in 2014. Looking to the future, new 10 nanometer technology will emerge, and perhaps another generation (7 nanometer technology) by the end of the decade. In my last post, I described how exponential growth is slow for a long time, and then explodes. Also, earlier in this series, I mentioned how my personal computer today was 60,000 times faster than the IBM PC AT I used years ago for robotics research. Using that as a baseline, I’ll outline how computer technology might advance.

  • Current PC (22 nanometer technology): 60,000 times faster than IBM PC AT
  • 2014 (14 nanometer technology): 120,000 times faster
  • 2016 (10 nanometer technology): 240,000 times faster
  • 2018 (7 nanometer technology): 480,000 times faster
  • 2020 (tentative, alternate technology): 960,000 times faster
  • 2022 (tentative, alternate technology): 1,920,000 times faster
  • 2024 (tentative, alternate technology): 3,840,000 times faster

The dates are approximate, the doubling factor is inexact, and alternative technologies are still in the laboratory. Nevertheless, the macro trend is clear: digital technology is going to explode in terms of computational power. With this timeline in mind, I’ll outline the coming years.

2013 – 2016: The MIT Sloan Management Review recently published a study asserting that embracing digital technology is a strategic imperative for companies — “adopt new technologies effectively or face competitive obsolescence.” Over three-quarters of the participants saw the transformation as urgent, but many also complained about “innovation fatigue” given the number of changes they’ve recently been through. The pace of change, however, is speeding up, and the group most energized about taking on the challenge is the younger generation.

Perhaps rapid changes will create opportunities for start-ups with disruptive technologies and products. IT spending, which exceeds $3 Trillion worldwide, will stay focused around cloud, mobile, social, big data and analytics. New platforms for application development continue to emerge: IBM recently announced the Watson Ecosystem, based upon the computer that won at Jeopardy, to “spur innovation and fuel a new ecosystem of entrepreneurial software app providers.” As of 2012, the internet switched to a new protocol, setting the stage for an emerging “internet of things.” Soon, you’ll be shopping for a smart watch, and robots will do work in new places, such as farms and mining operations. Young people are creating their own digital brand, and they’re networking not just with LinkedIn, but also with new communities, such as FounderDating and MeetUp. The Boston New Technology Meetup Group has a product showcase once a month, where entrepreneurs demonstrate emerging products. Meetings are often held at hack/reduce, which is a non-profit that collaborates with government, corporations, and universities to “help Boston create the talent and the technologies that will shape our future in a big data-driven economy.” They give interested people access to “a large-scale compute cluster, hands-on workshops, and a physical space in the heart of Kendall Square.”

Start up companies will prosper for many years during the digital revolution; many will launch with close to zero capital investment. Just a few mouse clicks can provision servers in the cloud, which can then be used on a pay-as-you-go basis. All companies will enjoy a world-wide audience: just a few employees will be able to reach thousands of customers. Facebook and Twitter were the beginning, but the benefits will extend beyond high technology to anyone with a unique product or skill to offer. My niece is an artist who is able to sell her products to a worldwide audience using the web and social media. Opportunities will continue for people at the highest level of skill, especially those that combine academic, social, managerial, and leadership talents.

Overall, however, expect problems with the economy to continue. Collaboration in high technology represents the bright side of the sharing economy. A recent article in the New York Times describes an emerging trend toward sharing “activities as diverse as car-pooling, ride-sharing, opening one’s home to strangers via Web-based services like Couchsurfing or Airbnb, sharing office space and working in community gardens and food co-ops.” These services, while innovative, are a tactic people are using to support their livelihood and cope with the loss of jobs in the U.S. At the other end of the spectrum are people who survive by doing odd jobs, borrowing money, and going back to school at 60 years old. I expect the number of “at risk” people, as defined in an earlier post, to rise. As mid-skill jobs become obsolete, and these workers shift to low-skill jobs, citizens will demand an increase to the minimum wage. Some will argue against this change, saying that it will accelerate the shift to automation. The truth is that automation is coming regardless of government policies. California has a bill to raise the minimum wage by 2016; other legislation will emerge at both the state and federal level. The dark side of the story is that not everyone will benefit: inequality will continue to rise. The productivity and wealth created by our digital economy will depend less and less on labor.  The economic trends I described in earlier posts will continue.

2017 / 2020: The digital revolution will continue, but other areas will come to the forefront as well, especially genetics, nanotechnology and robotics. Silicon technology will peak during this period or soon after. Cloud computing platforms will become a commodity. You’ll be able to “print” three dimensional objects, such as replacement parts and small toys, inexpensively. IBM predicts that by 2017, machines will mimic all five human senses with technology. Memory implants will be possible. You will be able to “feel” the texture of objects by touching the screen on your phone. Your phone will also be able to “smell” the environment, perhaps detecting that you are sick, and adjust to the context of your environment based on listening to background noise. By the way, a paper-thin device may replace your phone or tablet computer. Nearly half of internet traffic will originate from non-PC devices, such as TVs, handsets and others; the number of devices on the internet will be triple the worldwide population. Analysts predict that we will be living in the “digital universe.” The number of servers worldwide (virtual and physical) will have grown by an order of magnitude. Language barriers will be more or less gone due to machine translation.

2021 – 2025: Computational power will likely continue to increase according to Moore’s law using three-dimensional circuits or another technological innovation. We will foresee the day when computers will match the human brain in terms of computations per second, which could come as early as 2025. In the very long term, IBM researchers have a vision that “by 2060, a one petaflop computer that would fill half a football field today, will fit on your desktop.” Narrow artificial intelligence (or weak AI) will continue evolving at an increasing pace. Note that everything I’ve discussed so far depends only on specialized machine intelligence. None of these trends imply that machines will pass the Turing test (show intelligence indistinguishable from that of a human). Someday, however, this may become a possibility that cannot be discounted. Regardless, robots will become ubiquitous at work and at home.

Crossing the Bridge

For many years, the debate about the impact of technology on the economy will continue to rage. The usual suspects will dig into established positions. On one side, people, such as Scott Winship of the Bookings Institution, will argue that robots do not cause unemployment and that people who say such things are suffering from “Technophobia.” I disagree. I welcome the coming digital revolution and agree that technology promises to bring great benefits to society.  For this to happen, however, society needs to understand and manage the changing dynamics of the economy. We can’t solve the problem by simply saying that government needs to get out-of-the-way, so that the free market can solve all ills. There is no law of physics that says rising productivity must bring rising wages and more jobs. This was true in the past, but the pattern may not hold true in the future. On the other side, people will argue that government can solve issues by updating policies for money, labor, and trade. We may, however, find such changes insufficient. We’re entering a new era where the fundamental nature of work will change. A fresh view about the economy needs to emerge. I don’t know exactly what this new economy will look like, but I do believe that the solution will need cooperation between business and government.

A bright spot is Massive Open Online Education (MOOCS). The number of available classes will continue growing at a phenomenal rate. Advanced education will become ubiquitous, and often freely available, though debate will continue about the relative benefits of online vs. classroom education. This is the good news. The bad news is that advanced education will not guarantee success. Some jobs, once held by highly educated workers, will become vulnerable. All knowledge worker jobs will eventually come under wage pressure from offshore resources or automation. People that remain open-minded and nimble will have an advantage. Despite these changes, I would make it a priority to offer advanced education to as many people as possible.
Here are some thoughts about staying employed until the scientists and economists figure all this out.

  • Take advantage of the low-cost of entry to start a digital business.
  • Prefer jobs that are less likely to be automated in the near future. Last week I mentioned a detailed study that reviewed over 700 occupations and predicted which would be affected by automation. Examples of occupations that are relatively safe are management, science, education and health care. In brief, people oriented jobs are harder to automate than routine jobs (labor or knowledge worker).
  • If you are not the academic type, consider a trade.  It will be some time before robots take jobs as plumbers or electricians.
  • Networking has always been important, but it will be even more so in the future. Because of automatic screening of applications, it will be increasingly hard to find a job without a personal connection.
  • Volunteer in your community. You may not always be employed, but you will always have something to offer. We’re going to need to help each other during these transition years.

Let me close by saying that I will follow-up on this series in a few ways.  First, I’ll continue to track the at risk labor force (and improve my methods). Second, I’ll read new books as they come out, such as the January release of the upcoming book Second Machine Age. This conversation is going to heat up in the coming years, so I’m sure that my views and opinions will evolve as I learn more. Third, I’ll give an update after the 2014 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. I am very fortunate to have recently joined the team that is planning this event. I expect to have many interesting conversations that will give me a lot to write about.

To stay employed, find a passion and stick with it.  Leadership and creativity will set you apart. Don’t be afraid to study the arts because there will be many people and machines that can do purely technical work.