The Work of the Future

The Work of the Future

Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines

By David Autor, David A. Mindell and Elisabeth B. Reynolds

Foreword by Robert M. Solow

Why the United States lags behind other industrialized countries in sharing the benefits of innovation with workers and how we can remedy the problem.





Why the United States lags behind other industrialized countries in sharing the benefits of innovation with workers and how we can remedy the problem.

The United States has too many low-quality, low-wage jobs. Every country has its share, but those in the United States are especially poorly paid and often without benefits. Meanwhile, overall productivity increases steadily and new technology has transformed large parts of the economy, enhancing the skills and paychecks of higher-paid knowledge workers. What's wrong with this picture? Why have so many workers benefited so little from decades of growth? The Work of the Future shows that technology is neither the problem nor the solution. We can build better jobs if we create institutions that leverage technological innovation and also support workers though long cycles of technological transformation.

Building on findings from the multiyear MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future, the book argues that we must foster institutional innovations that complement technological change. Skills programs that emphasize work-based and hybrid learning (in person and online), for example, empower workers to become and remain productive in a continuously evolving workplace. Industries fueled by new technology that augments workers can supply good jobs, and federal investment in R&D can help make these industries worker-friendly. We must act to ensure that the labor market of the future offers benefits, opportunity, and a measure of economic security to all.


$29.95 T ISBN: 9780262046367 192 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 15 figures


Robert M. Solow.


  • "The authors push back on the notion that technological advances will lead to the elimination of countless jobs in the future.Technological change, they emphasize, takes time to unfold and creates new job opportunities even while destroying old ones.In fact, public policy has been more important than technology in shaping labor-market outcomes, specifically for less skilled workers without college degrees. Although all advanced economies have experienced technological change, the United States has seen a sharper divergence between productivity and wages, a more dramatic decline in labor's share of national income, and a more pronounced rise in poorly compensated jobs, all as a result of policy, not technology.These economic trends and their social and political consequences, the authors argue, can be reversed by an increase in the federal minimum wage, which would spur employers to take steps to boost the productivity of low-paid workers; by legal changes that enhance the ability of workers to organize and represent themselves collectively."

    Foreign Affairs

  • "A timely book."

    Wall Street Journal


  • “For too long, American workers have been left behind. Business leaders have a responsibility to their workers to understand the challenges and opportunities associated with building better jobs. This book, based on leading research and real-world insights, provides actionable recommendations to make technology work for, and not against, most workers.”

    Indra Nooyi

    former Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

  • “Emerging technologies like AI hold amazing potential for transforming our society and economy, but as this book illustrates, they must be coupled with innovations in labor market practices to succeed. The expert authors of The Work of the Future provide tomorrow's leaders with crucial insights to develop a creative vision for the future—and ensure technology drives opportunity in the years to come.”

    Eric Schmidt

    Cofounder, Schmidt Futures; former CEO and Chairman, Google

  • “Work is changing in every industry and for every worker in some way. This book provides a road map for how we can shape the future so that it is innovative, equitable, and prosperous. Leaders from every realm—business, government, education, and social organizations—have much to learn from this book!”

    Ginni M. Rometty

    former Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM

  • The Work of the Future challenges us to think deeply and critically about the crisis facing hard-working Americans and shows how a more secure and stable future is a matter of choice, not fate. An accessible but well-researched antidote to much of today's economic orthodoxy.”

    David M. Rolf

    Founder and President Emeritus, SEIU 775; author of The Fight for Fifteen and A Roadmap to Rebuilding Worker Power

  • “Having spent my higher-education career working hand-in-hand with industry partners to ensure our curriculum and technology meet the evolving needs of employers, I see the strategies outlined in this book as critical to our national effort to develop a skilled future workforce and provide good jobs for new and incumbent workers.”

    Annette Parker

    President, South Central College