Hello Quartz members—
This week, we dive into the future of work.
After years reporting on topics that are often categorized under “the future of work,” I can barely type the phrase anymore without wincing a little, because the future of work is a perennial debate that has gone nowhere for centuries. Today, you’re likely to hear about AI replacing humans in factories or at 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.
Working takes up a lot of human hours, and, for better or worse, it is often the means through which people contribute to a community, develop status, or form their identities. It is so fundamental to our society that suggesting it’s about to change is akin to suggesting that society itself is about to change. I think that’s why the topic of the future of work has long provoked interest and anxiety.
But we don’t need to look into the future to see problems in the way we work or evidence that our society is always changing. The old 9-to-5 mindset can make life hard—right now—for working families and older workers who increasingly cannot or do not want to retire. The skills most in demand are changing, and the skills of the workforce are not keeping up. The way we deliver basic benefits is flawed; what counts as “work” leaves out a lot of extremely valuable labor; and workers’ wages in the West are stagnant, even in a growing economy.
The only real way to address the future of work is by solving problems with the present of work first. Those problems don’t require a science fiction writer to concoct future potential scenarios, just attention.
You can find our field guide to this important topic here, and of course, we’re always eager to hear from you. What do you think? Is the changing nature of work something to be feared, or celebrated? And what should we be doing now to prepare?
MEMBER CONFERENCE CALLS
We had some lively discussions last week with early internet leader Tim O’Reilly on how Amazon and Google are displaying worrying signs of monopolistic behavior; with Quartz reporter Allison Schrager on the upside-down world of negative interest rates, and what they tell us about risk; and with Quartz senior reporter Jenny Anderson on how entrepreneurs are finding ways to tap the market for new parents. You can find recordings of all the calls here.
We will have more video conference calls coming up this week, starting today (Mon., Aug. 12) at 11am ET/4pm BST, with Quartz’s science editor Katie Palmer, and reporters Akshat Rathi and Chase Purdy. They’ll be dissecting the recent heat waves that swept across Europe and the new cooling technologies that are currently under development. Join us at this link for the 30-minute members-only conference.
If you’re on your phone, you can call into the conference at either +1 408 740 7256 in the US or +44 203 608 5256 in the UK; for both numbers, the meeting code is 722 994 440. You can ask questions or leave comments, at any time during the call, or if you prefer, reply to this email with your questions, and we’ll make sure we answer them.
THE QUARTZ GUIDE TO TRAVEL
We have also updated our members’ field guide to how to travel like a pro with a comprehensive guide to frequent flyer miles and credit card points in India. Ajay Awtaney, who writes regularly about the luxury travel and airline miles industry in India, compiled the guide for us. You can check it out here.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE TALK ABOUT?
We’re actively planning future calls and coverage. We’d love to hear more from you. What are you curious about? Are there topics you’d like us to cover on one of our calls? Reply to this email with your thoughts—we’re listening.
Deputy membership editor