We joined The Boston Globe at host Wayfair HQ in Boston for its “Smarter City, Smarter Skills” panel discussion on how the innovation economy is reshaping our world.
We joined The Boston Globe at host Wayfair HQ in Boston for its "Smarter City, Smarter Skills" panel discussion on how the innovation economy is reshaping our world. The event was sponsored by Iron Mountain, and the Rockefeller Foundation, with Knowledge Partner, McKinsey & Company, and moderated by Shirley Leung, Columnist, The Boston Globe, and Matt Viser, Deputy Washington Bureau Chief, The Boston Globe.
The day started with a brief message from Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh on asking questions needed to understand the impact of technology on workforce.
McKinsey’s John Means gave a presentation on his co-authored MGI report: "Smart Cities – Digital Solutions to a More Livable Future." His report found we are in a new era of smart cities, moving past the hype and criticisms, and turning to look toward the future where improving quality of life and outcomes for citizens will be the focus in addition to the applications and technology. Key is deploying digital technologies with impact directly on the citizen and public issues to capture the benefits of smart cities, while being mindful of the effects of its implementation. The report also measured the infrastructure and application layers across 50 cities from every element of a citizen’s experience of a city; including energy, mobility, water, waste, safety, community engagement, security, health, and economic development and housing. Interconnection of applications and technologies and their impact was stressed to meet opportunities of higher levels of citizen engagement. He gave some core takeaway highlights, namely that cities should - look how our new infrastructure investments could embed smart city technology for the potential of connected sensors and autonomous vehicles; move toward openness in data and partnerships; invest in civic tech-savvy leaders for cross agency and sector cooperation; and become more cyber-savvy with understanding
the implications of security and privacy disruption in our communities. It was found that even the most advanced cities still have a long way to go.
Joseph Aoun, President of Northeastern University, said "[It is] projected up to 50% of the jobs are going to disappear in the next 20 years.. at the same time we are projecting new jobs will be created, and frankly no one knows whether the new jobs that will be created will compensate the ones that will disappear. Inequalities are going to increase unless we step in. Historically, education had been the equalizer giving opportunity for people, to first educate themselves and afterwards to continuously re-tool." He recommends society become robot-proof, including mastering humanics in college, including technological, data and human literacies. Please see Mr. Aoun’s book, Robot Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.
Niraj Shah, CEO of Wayfair, stated, "The types of skills you need for the future are not necessarily the ones in the past.. We think STEM education should be part of a basic curriculum. A skill sought after by many companies is data science, we have a bootcamp that addresses a gap out there."
"We have a planet-scale reskilling effort on our hands," Anant Agarwal said, a professor at the MIT and founder of
edX MicroMasters programs, a series of online courses featuring graduate-level training in specialized technical fields (~$1,000 a course, counted as credit toward graduate degrees).
U.S. Representative Ro Khanna (D - California) pointed out, "It shouldn’t be 'Move Fast and Break Things,' It should be ‘Move Fast and Build Things,'" urging that there should be a Moore’s Law for job creation.
Susan Crawford stated innovation can be thought as of a set of recipes - new ways of making a living, new ways of creating competitive industries – that require some basic materials that the US Federal Government has historically been very brave at providing; namely basic infrastructure, funding basic science research and setting standards that unleash innovation for everyone else.
Seattle’s Mayor Jenny Durkan noted, "The net is the highway of this current time and if it isn’t equitable and accessible for all the economy won’t be accessible for all.. we have to be balancing innovation with thoughtfulness" in preparing for the consequences of the future of work.
"This effort has to start early-on, in preschool.. the traditional model of twelve years of school is not the way to go.. [I]t is important to re-evaluate it.. there are schools that are starting to teach for mastery," said Mayor Yvonne Spicer of Framingham, Massachusetts. She noted many kids of color are not getting or are afraid of getting STEM because they think it is for bright or white kids.
"Disruption is a very good thing, and deregulation isn’t necessarily a bad thing.. Even as disrupting,.. you can’t leave behind your old values," Senator Ed Markey (D - Massachusetts) summarized.
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