Foresight as an essential tool to address the challenges arising from the impact of technology on the future work

Stephen Hawkins, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates are warning the world about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence (AI) growing beyond human control. As stated by Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project, “whether AI does or does not become the nightmare of some science fiction, we are certain it will have fundamental impacts on the nature of work, worldwide. And the world needs to think seriously about this now, because it may take a generation or more to make serious changes necessary to improve our work-technology future prospects. A growing body of AI experts believes that if socio-political-economic systems stay the same, and technological acceleration, integration, and globalization continue, then half the world could be unemployed by 2050”.

In this context, the Millennium Project launched a new study based on foresight methodologies to explore global long-term structural unemployment, new forms of work, futuristic economics, and strategies for governments, corporations, universities, NGOS, and individuals to pursue for improving global prospects. This study entitled Future Work/Technology 2050, tries to address this challenge, developing the following steps:

  1. Literature and related research review (completed)
  2. Real-Time Delphi international survey (completed)
  3. Road maps and scenario drafts (completed)
  4. Real-Time Delphi feedback on the draft road maps and scenarios (completed)
  5. Final scenarios, policy implications, and production of an initial report (completed)
  6. Initial report as input to national planning workshops (completed)
  7. Collect results of the national planning workshops; analyze and synthesize results
  8. Final report for public discussion

This study demonstrates how long-term and large-scale strategies are needed to address the potential scope and spectrum of unemployment and income gaps in the foreseeable future due to the acceleration, globalization, and integration of technological capacities and population growth. Indeed, the  review of recent research developed on the future of work and income gaps shows that in existing research, there is great attention to problem description, but few specifics about forecasts of potential job displacement: how many, where, and by when. These studies also do not offer global and local strategies on the scale necessary to address these problems and tend to under rate long-term accumulative technological capacities. Such long-range thinking is required since it might take decades to make major world structural changes. An innovative strategic thinking approach is needed about fundamental changes in the nature of work, economics, and education that will be required to prevent mass unemployment and increased income gaps.

Read more about this study here: