The current debate over the future of work fits a classic script. Today, there is a lot of discussion about robots and AI replacing humans in factories and banks; nearly 500 years ago, Queen Elizabeth I supposedly denied an English inventor named William Lee a patent for an automated knitting contraption because she wanted to protect women who made a living by knitting.
History is a very good place to start as we seek to understand what the future may hold, and in our field guide to the future of work, our story on how the topic has captured our attention for centuries provides valuable context. Indeed, automation often results in more jobs, not fewer, and there are some things about the future, like the growing market in caring for the elderly, that we can bank on.
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Technology is bringing radical change to the workplace, and elsewhere in our field guide, we address how we’ll eventually need not only new thinking, but a new vocabulary to address that shift. Will making sure everyone’s needs are met via a universal basic income be part of that new thinking? Only the future will tell.
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