Robocalypse Now? Technology, Productivity and Employment

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

His presentation was based on a paper co-written with Utrecht University economist Anna Salomons. “Is productivity growth inimical to employment?,” they asked in the paper’s abstract. “Canonical economic theory says no, but much recent economic theory says maybe - that is, rapid advances in machine capabilities may curtail aggregate labor demand as technology increasingly encroaches on human job tasks.”. Has productivity growth threatened employment?

The Puzzling Personal Productivity Paradox

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

The past 10-15 years have seen a number of technology advances, from smartphones to machine learning. Yet, despite these impressive advances, for most of this period economies around the world have been stuck in an era of slow productivity growth. Opinions abound, but in the end, there’s no consensus on the causes of this apparent productivity paradox , on how long the slowdown will likely last, or on what to do about it.

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AI Technologies Are Fundamentally Changing How Work Gets Done

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

After decades of promise and hype, artificial intelligence is finally becoming one of the most important technologies of our era. AI technologies, like machine learning, are clearly having a major impact on the very nature of work.

Solow Paradox 2.0: The Lagging Impact of Technology Advances on Productivity Growth

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Our aging economies are thus dependent on productivity gains to drive long-term economic growth , future prosperity and higher standards of living. Which is why few topics have generated as much concern among economists and policy makers as the sharp decline in productivity growth in the US and other advanced economies over the past decade, - despite accelerating technology advances. Their average productivity growth in the 5 years between 2000 and 2004 was 2.4%.

The Productivity Paradox: Digital Abundance and Scarce Genius

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Despite the relentless advances of digital technologies, productivity growth has been declining over the past decade. Some contend, - most prominently Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon , - that over the past few decades there’s been a fundamental decline in innovation and productivity. While technologies may advance rapidly, humans and our institutions change slowly. Why then is productivity growth so lukewarm?

AI and the Productivity Paradox

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

But, at the same time, productivity growth has significantly declined over the past decade, and income has continued to stagnate for the majority of Americans. This puzzling contradiction is addressed in Artificial Intelligences and the Modern Productivity Paradox , a working paper recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Economists have proposed competing explanations for declining productivity growth and so far have failed to reach a consensus.” .

The Productivity Puzzle

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Economic growth has two main components, productivity growth and the growth of the labor force. I ncreasing productivity is thus more crucial than ever to promote economic growth. But, in the US and other advanced economies, productivity growth has significantly slowed down over the past few decades. From 1987 to 2004 US labor productivity grew at a 2.1% Since 2011, the productivity rate has further declined to 0.6%. . US labor productivity grew at only 1.5%

Remote Work is Surprisingly Productive, But For Many… Something Is Missing

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

asks science and technology journalist Clive Thompson in the title of his June 9 NY Times Magazine article. “The coronavirus crisis is forcing white-collar America to reconsider nearly every aspect of office life. What If Working From Home Goes on … Forever?

Educational Research in Learning Technology

Stephen Downes: Half an Hour

Kerr in this recent post , about how research in educational technology could be improved, but I have disagreements around the edges, enough that I think more discussion is warranted. Here are just a few: - access - it is demonstrably true that educational technology has increased access.

Technology, Marketing and Storytelling

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

I was reminded of those exciting times when reading a recent article, The Power of Immersive Media , by Frank Rose , Senior Fellow at Columbia’s School of the Arts and author of a number of articles and books on digital culture, including The Art of Immersion. Digital technologies, - mobile, cloud, social, Internet of Things, big data and analytics, AI… - are transforming just about every aspect of business. Digital technologies are now expanding the scope of storytelling. .

AI Is Mostly About Business Value, Not Technology

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

For example, in a 2018 Harvard Business Review article he co-authored, Davenport advised companies to build their AI capabilities through the lens of business opportunities, rather than technology. Transformative technologies are prone to hype cycles , - remember the dot-com bubble.

AI and the Productivity Paradox

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

But, at the same time, productivity growth has significantly declined over the past decade, and income has continued to stagnate for the majority of Americans. This puzzling contradiction is addressed in Artificial Intelligences and the Modern Productivity Paradox , a working paper recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Economists have proposed competing explanations for declining productivity growth and so far have failed to reach a consensus.” .

Technology, Media and Culture - the Best of Times or the Worst of Times?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab (AIL) was founded in 2010 to study the transformational impact of technology on culture and on the media industries. The Lab has a number of industrial partners , including technology and communication companies like IBM, Verizon and Cisco, and media companies like Warner Bros, Paramount and BET. How can you best understand the impact of disruptive technologies on something as deeply human as culture?

Cloud, Services and the Transformation of Production

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

It will undoubtedly transform the information technology (IT) industry, but it will also profoundly change the way people work and companies operate. It will allow digital technology to penetrate every nook and cranny of the economy and of society, creating some tricky political problems along the way.”. What do we mean by the production of services ? In the industrial economy, production was mostly applied to physical goods, while services were primarily labor-based.

Global Arbitrage and the Productivity Puzzle

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about The Productivity Puzzle , - namely that despite our continuing technology advances, the US and other developed economies have experienced a sharp decline in productivity growth over the past 10 to 15 years. So far, though, economists have failed to reach consensus on the causes of the productivity growth slowdown or indeed the relative significance of the various arguments,” wrote McKinsey.

Apparently, Organizational Culture is Crap

Dan Pontefract

The one thing we can be assured of until humans safely land and colonize Mars is “ organizational culture ” will continue to be a topic of conversation. Google returns over 22 million hits when you search the term “ organizational cultur e” You can even read what Google has to say about its own culture. You may find it interesting to know, for example, that they “strive to maintain the open culture often associated with startups.”

Technological Unemployment and the Future of Work

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Few topics are as important, - and as challenging to anticipate, - than the future of work given our justifiable fears of rising technological unemployment. One such discussion took place this past September at the The World Summit on Technological Unemployment in New York. I moderated a panel on Technology and the Future of Work, where MIT economist David Autor and NY Times reporter John Markoff talked about their most recent work.

Where is Technology Taking the Economy

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

I recently read Where is Technology Taking the Economy? , The first era, in the 1970s and 1980s, brought us Moore’s law and the dramatic advances in semiconductor technologies. And data can’t easily be owned either, it can be garnered from nonproprietary sources… if past technology revolutions are indicative, we will see entirely new industries spring up we hadn’t even thought of.”. But, as we well know, there are serious downsides to technology-based automation.

Fostering an Innovation Culture: Talent, Discipline and Leadership

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

I was reminded of this point as I read The Hard Truth About Innovative Culture s , an article in a recent issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) by Harvard professor Gary Pisano. “A culture conducive to innovation is not only good for a company’s bottom line,” writes Pisano. “It also is something that both leaders and employees value in their organizations.”. Innovative cultures are paradoxical. Innovation has been a hot topic for the past few decades.

The New Era of Smart, Connected Products

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

An equally optimistic view was expressed in another excellent article, - How Smart Connected Products are Transforming Competition , - published in the November issue of the Harvard Business Review by Michael Porter and James Heppelmann. . We generally think of products as physical entities, - e.g., clothes, light bulbs, appliances, cars, - some quite simple and some much more complex, built using sophisticated mechanical and/or electrical components.

From Mass Production to Mass Individualism

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Technology and globalizations have significantly reduced the employment opportunities and earning of middle-skill, middle-wage jobs. All kinds of new products and services, like Airbnb, are now coming to market. Beyond the enabling technologies, major social and economic forces are behind what Brooks calls a new trust calculus. The result is a personalistic culture in which people have actively lost trust in big institutions.

Automation Technologies and the Future of Work

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Last year, McKinsey launched a multi-year study to explore the potential impact of automation technologies on jobs, organizations and the future of work. “Can we look forward to vast improvements in productivity, freedom from boring work, and improved quality of life?,” It found that 45% of work activities could be automated using existing, state-of-the-art technologies.

There Is Nothing Wrong With The Term ‘Company Culture’

Dan Pontefract

The headline from Harvard Business Review read, Why “Company Culture” Is a Misleading Term. “Organizational culture is assumed to be important to making sure that employees are happy and productivity is good. At the same time, the concept, meaning, and function of culture rarely garners much thought.” I’m here to defend the term, “Company Culture” But first, a bit of a background to the author.

Global Arbitrage and the Productivity Puzzle

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about The Productivity Puzzle , - namely that despite our continuing technology advances, the US and other developed economies have experienced a sharp decline in productivity growth over the past 10 to 15 years. So far, though, economists have failed to reach consensus on the causes of the productivity growth slowdown or indeed the relative significance of the various arguments,” wrote McKinsey.

Technology and the Future of Media

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Most everyone will agree that advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) are radically transforming the business landscape. Internet users already spend 20–30% of their time online, mainly engaging with media content… Globalization, deregulation, technological innovation and the convergence of previously separate industries such as media, entertainment, information, and consumer electronics, have created a somewhat turbulent media landscape.”.

Services, Production and Clouds

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Last week I wrote about the workshop I recently attended in IBM’s Almaden Research Lab on The Co-Evolution of Future Technologies, Skills, Jobs, and Quality-of-Life. Given the major advances in the power and costs of information technologies, many more such service activities are now amenable to be transformed into algorithms and embodied in software. Over the past several years I have given a number of seminars on technology and innovation in services.

IT, Productivity and Organizational Capital

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

But, to achieve long term economic growth, as well as gains in our standard of living , the US must also focus on innovation and productivity growth. US labor productivity - “the amount of goods and services that a laborer produces in a given amount of time” - grew at only 1.5% This period of slow productivity coincided with the rapid growth in the use of computers in business, giving rise to the Solow. invest in corporate culture.

Become a More Productive, Empathetic, Creative Person With the Help of AI-Based Tools

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Despite dramatic advances in technology, most of the world’s economies have been stuck in a long period of slow growth and slow productivity. In a recent article in the MIT Sloan Management Review , MIT Research Fellow Michael Schrage proposed a provocative and counterintuitive approach for enhancing innovation and productivity through man-machine collaborations. Schrage’s approach has been more influenced by behavioral economics than by technology or algorithmic advances.

A Growing Backlash Against the Relentless Advances in Technology?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Disruptive innovation was coined around 20 years ago by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen to describe “a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.” At Citigroup, where I consulted from March, 2008 through June of this year, I was strategic advisor for innovation and technology.

Where is Technology Taking the Economy

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

I recently read Where is Technology Taking the Economy? , The first era, in the 1970s and 1980s, brought us Moore’s law and the dramatic advances in semiconductor technologies. And data can’t easily be owned either, it can be garnered from nonproprietary sources… if past technology revolutions are indicative, we will see entirely new industries spring up we hadn’t even thought of.”. But, as we well know, there are serious downsides to technology-based automation.

Can AI Help Translate Technological Advances into Strategic Advantage?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” is one of the most memorable quotes of science fiction writer Arthur C. But, as we better understand its promise and limitations, technology becomes just another tool we rely on in our work and daily life. This has been a particular issue with information technologies in general, including the Internet and AI. Digital technologies are all around us.

Internet culture

Jay Cross's Informal Learning

In a knowledge era, workers are the means of production. Encourage bottom-up peer production. Web technology scales. Asymmetrical productivity : Twenty years ago, training departments prided themselves on consistency: providing precisely the same training experience to everyone in the organization. Now that products are intangible, productivity knows no limits. I am astounded how the ability to work with small chunks improves my productivity.

[liveblog] Data & Technology in Government

David Weinberger

Part of the importance of this is that students at the Kennedy School are agitating for a much strong technology component to their education on the grounds that these days policy makers need to be deeply cognizant of the possibilities technology offers, and of the culture of our new technology development environment. Tomorrow there is an afternoon of discussions sponsored by the student-led Technology for Change group.

Data 135

What’s Needed First? Culture Change or Enterprise 2.0 Adoption

Dan Pontefract

Do we first require an organizational culture adaptation prior to any meaningful Enterprise 2.0 tools need to become so simplistic, easy to use and of course generally available to an organization before a culture can be considered connected, flat and more collaborative? Peter Bregman states that an easy way in which to begin changing an organization’s culture is by telling stories. That should change the culture, right? Culture collaboration enterprise 2.0

Technology, Capitalism and “The American Way of Life”

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Much has been written about our digital technology revolution and its impact on economies, societies and individuals. But few have brought the kind of historical perspective to the subject that helps us better understand our turbulent times like scholar and consultant Carlota Perez in her 2002 book Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages and related publications. The now well accepted technologies become the norm.

The Increasing Economic Value of Digital Capital

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

It introduces a set of methods for quantifying the value of digital capital investments, as well as their impact on a company’s long term productivity and growth. General purpose technologies “are the defining technologies of their times and can radically change the economic environment.

Governance and Pragmatism: Moving Beyond “The Culture of No”

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround ,” former IBM Chairman and CEO Lou Gerstner wrote about the bureaucratic culture that contributed greatly to the near-death experience IBM went through in the early 1990s. Lou called it A Culture of “No.”. “I I think the aspect of IBM’s culture that was the most remarkable to me was the ability of any individual, any team, any division to block agreement or action. The digital technology revolution marches on.

Reflections on Innovation, Productivity and Job Creation

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

A couple of weeks ago I attended a workshop on Information Technology and Economics sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). For example, over the past year I have given a number of seminars on Technology and Innovation in the Service Economy. I am getting ready to teach a graduate course on the subject at MIT this Fall, where we will explore technology’s impact on industries ranging from finance to healthcare.

Stop Days: The Secret To Nonprofit Productivity

Beth Kanter

The video chat provided a nice opportunity to have conversation in real-time about the relationship between self-care and workplace productivity. We talked about the issue of “ collaborative overload ” which is defined as the burnout that results from our over reliance on e-mails, meetings and other collaborative online technology tools that have, ironically, limited our ability to get stuff done.We Workplace Productivity and Well Being .

A Useful Framework for Analyzing the Impact of Technology on Jobs

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Last week I discussed a recent Pew Research report on the impact of AI, robotics and other advanced technologies on the future of jobs. They include blue-collar manual activities such as manufacturing and other forms of production, as well as white-collar, information-based activities like accounting, record keeping, dealing with simple customer service questions, and many kinds of administrative tasks.

Education Technology Strategies - Day Two

Stephen Downes: Half an Hour

So the Achieving Excellents has four major objectives: - achieving excellence - ensuring equity - promoting well-being - competence We''ve also been partnering with the Council of Directors of Educations (CODE - ''superintendants'') - this boosts what we know about technology and enabling innovations. We also find these technologies are giving students with special needs a new voice, and to connect with their teachers and classmates. So, we see this huge growth in technology.

Did Zappos Just Ruin Their Culture Or Is It A Brilliant Org Redesign?

Dan Pontefract

In a word, it’s all about “ culture.” Their collaborative mindset is infectious, one that encourages everyone to scale the culture. It’s an act of recognition, but it’s the opportunity for all Zappos employees to scale the culture. Culture can grow in other ways, too. It doesn’t have to, but the company’s financial and time contributions help foster a culture that is putting purpose alongside profit.

Education Technology Strategies - Day One

Stephen Downes: Half an Hour

Research - 2012-2014 - already indicators - web-based email increasing vs in-house email (38% - 56%) - cloud-based productivity software increasing 27-46% SWOT (Helpful / Harmful, Internal / External) S - removed fixed cost of laptops and servicing, gave parents a choice to purchase better device W - how to help teachers deal with these disruptive devices (eg. dates to classical Greece How does technology change this? - Using technology to find more (vs.