STEM Education is Not Enough to Address the Future of Work and Long-Range Global Technological Changes, Says Global Think Tank

Cover of Work/Technology 2050: Scenarios and Action

A three-year international study by The Millennium Project produced three detailed scenarios, conducted 30 national workshops in 29 countries, identified hundreds of actions distilled to 93 that were assessed by hundreds of futurists and related experts in over 50 countries.

​​​​​​​Work/Technology 2050: Scenarios and Actions could be the broadest, deepest, long-range international assessment about what to do about the future impacts of future technology.

A pragmatic exploration of possible futures - choices and consequences - really exercised my imagination.



The Millennium Project has just released Work/Technology 2050: Scenarios and Actions. This international long‑range study includes three detailed scenarios to 2050 and assessments of 93 actions. The actions are the results of 30 national workshops in 29 countries. These workshops identified strategies to address the issues raised in the scenarios. These actions were assessed by five international surveys (one each for government and governance, business and labor, education and learning, arts and media, and the S&T communities) as to their feasibility and impact, plus comments.

Income gaps are widening, the concentration of wealth is increasing, jobless economic growth seems the new norm, and return on investment in capital and technology is usually better than labor. As labor costs go up and AI and robot costs go down, manufacturing and service unemployment rates are expected to increase. So, what to do?

The Millennium Project reviewed over 30 “future of work” studies to find what questions were not asked and those that were answered inadequately. This formed the basis for a questionnaire to answer these questions. The results were used to create three draft detailed scenarios to 2050, each reviewed by several hundred futurists and relevant experts selected by The Millennium Project’s Nodes around the world. 

Three scenarios are:

·       It’s Complicated—A Mixed Bag

·       Political/Economic Turmoil—Future Despair

·       If Humans Were Free—The Self-Actualization Economy

The final scenarios were discussed by participants in national workshops to identify what their countries should do to address the issues exposed in the scenarios. The workshops had discussion groups for government, business and labor, education and learning, arts and culture, and science and technology communities. The hundreds of suggestions collected through some 30 workshops were distilled into 93 actions. These were then submitted for assessment as to their feasibility and effectiveness via RTD questionnaires to international global panels of experts.

The Work/Technology 2050: Scenarios and Actions final report includes the full text of the three scenarios and one page of each for the 93 actions. Each one page is a distillation of futurists and related experts' judgments on each actions' feasibility and impact, with additional comments. “For those serious about addressing the future of work and technology, this report is a gold mine," says Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project. “We think this is the broadest, deepest, most international long-range assessment of strategies to address the future transition of work and technology. Granted, there is no way everyone will agree with all 93 actions, but the more of these are implements, the smoother our transition will be to the next age. The breadth and depth of Work/Technology 2050: Scenarios and Actions provides an unparalleled resource for policy advisors, educators, and decision-makers."

Among the 93 actions distilled from the workshops were:

  • Establish technology forecasting and assessment agencies to inform legislative, judicial, and executive functions of government about future technology and their potential range of impacts (a government Agency for the Future).
  • The government, business, and the labor unions should cooperate to create lifelong learning models including forecasts of future skills requirements and training programs.
  • In parallel to STEM education, create a hybrid system of self-paced inquiry-based learning for self-actualization, creativity, critical thinking, and human relations using new AI tools.
  • Create international standards for narrow and general Artificial Intelligence with a governance system to enforce them (maybe similar to the International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA).​​
  • Produce alternative cash flow projections for universal basic income to see if/when and where it is financially sustainable.​
  • Put memes in advertisements to help the cultural transition to new forms of economics and work.​
  • Create personal AI/Avatars able to match peoples' skills and interests with income opportunities worldwide which can make smart contracts to support self-employment.​
  • Shift education/learning systems more toward mastering skills than mastering a profession.​
  • Public/private research should explore the cultural transition for a new social contract between the government and the citizens who potentially could be both unemployed and augmented geniuses.​
  • Art/media/entertainment leaders should engage the public in anticipating cultural changes due to potential impacts of future technologies.

Some reviews:

"Fresh, in-depth take on the future of work; the insights offered in the three future scenarios are both chilling and exciting. A deep dive into this report is well worth the journey."

          --- Nancy Donaldson, former Washington Office Director, ILO​                            

"Valuable input for policymaking to help identify the unknowns that should be known for a good anticipatory thinking and strategic planning."

          --- Eva Kaili, European Parliament, Chair, Future Science & Technology Panel

"Important and relevant to the current global debates on effects of the digital takeover of so many sectors of national economies, which we cover closely."

          --- Dr. Hazel Henderson, CEO, Ethical Markets Media

"A great database of solutions and wealth of ideas for how everyone can play their part in dealing with an uncertain future."

          --- Brock Hinzmann, Business Futures Network (London, Silicon Valley, Tokyo)

​“We need to think globally and long-term about the future of work-technology dynamics,” says Elizabeth Florescu, Director of Research for The Millennium Project, “because if some countries do everything right to make a relatively smooth transition to the next economy, but others do not, increasing divides and mass migration are very likely.”

This 200-page report, complete with graphs, charts, and figures, is available in print and for download and concludes: “We may not need to do all 93 actions assessed by the international panels, but we do have to do more than just get STEM into more educational systems.”

The Millennium Project is an independent, nonprofit global participatory futures research think tank of futurists, scholars, business planners, and policymakers who work for international organizations, governments, corporations, non-governmental organizations, and universities. Founded in 1996, it has conducted 55 studies on the future with its 65 Nodes (groups of institutions and individuals) around the world that identify long-range challenges and strategies, and initiate foresight studies, workshops, symposiums, and advanced training. It produces the State of the Future reports, the Futures Research Methodology series, and the Global Futures Intelligence System.

Source: The Millennium Project


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