Today the future of work and well-being is under threat from artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. A new and distinctly technological revolution is underway that is reshaping societies across the globe on multiple levels. The potential impacts of this revolution “are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril.” (Klaus Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution).
Managing the transition to a future dominated by AI and automation will be one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century and many organizations and key leaders have yet to determine how and if the future of work will yield positive or negative outcomes for the global workforce. What does the future of work look like when framed in the human context? We wish to move beyond the problem definition that has dominated other such events towards tools and solutions that can only be derived from rich multi-stakeholder engagement, bringing together ethicists, technologists, policy researchers, politicians and business leaders.
Recognizing the need for interdisciplinary dialogue on this key issue, the Citi Foundation, the University of Notre Dame, City of South Bend, and the Zielsdorf Family Partnership for Corporate Engagement convened key thought leaders from think tanks and academia; the private sector; NGOs; foundations; and local, state, and federal governments in early June 2019 for a series of focused presentations and discussions on the future of work.
The conference—held on Notre Dame’s historic campus—focused on social and technological policies and innovations that will enable organizations and leaders to manage disruption while optimizing the benefits of technology for their respective populations. Organized in partnership by the McKenna Center and the Pulte Institute for Global Development, the conference brought more than 150 attendees from across the U.S. to gain both a domestic and global perspective on the challenges of automation facing states with rich, industrial traditions, such as Indiana. Delegates heard from 38 distinguished speakers, including former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, over three immersive days of interactive panels and site visits. The University has plans to build on the momentum of the conference and work with the City of South Bend to research this issue further in years to come.