Innovation Hub: Work, Interrupted

Airs Saturday, August 30 at 7am on AM 820 and 9pm on NJPR; Airs Sunday, August 31 at 6pm on AM 820; Airs Monday, September 1 at 2pm on 93.9FM and AM 820

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

On this episode of Innovation Hub, celebrate Labor Day weekend with a look at how the American workplace and its workers are changing -- for better and for worse.

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee tell us about how robots are taking over our jobs -- and which ones we should particularly fear. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman weighs in on the future of work conversation, and how we should be better preparing for it. Plus: a look at how much work really goes into making a fledgling start-up succeed. And we get further dialogue on why America might be heading for a 32-hour work week, and the pros and cons that would arise from such a radical transition.

Hear Innovation Hub's "Work, Interrupted" multiple times this holiday weekend:

Airs Saturday, August 30 at 7am on AM 820 and 9pm on NJPR
Airs Sunday, August 31 at 6pm on AM 820
Airs Monday, September 1 at 2pm on 93.9FM and AM 820

Listen to the show:

Comments [13]

pbuck from New Haven, CT

Great show, Kara! I appreciated this topic in particular because I teach at a university and students are constantly asking, What will I do with my major next? What kinds of careers are open to me? It's helpful to think about how to reframe that conversation with them. I was so happy to hear Innovation Hub on the radio in NYC because I used to listen in Boston, but have missed it since I moved away. It would be great to hear it on NPR more often.

Sep. 04 2014 12:15 PM

Hi everyone. Thanks for your comments on this episode of Innovation Hub! There is no transcript available for the show, but the Innovation Hub website has audio of each segment, as well as blog posts that expand further on the discussion. You can revisit the show here:

Sep. 02 2014 12:43 PM
Eden from Philadelphia

Cool show! It is clear things are changing- going to college is not a great investment anymore, and people aren't guaranteed middle class jobs if they just follow the rules. But I'm not sure we should be scared about this change. College if often just a holding pen for kids to become more mature before they enter the work force, but I think there are many other ways kids can learn and gain valuable experience-apprenticeships, internships, volunteer work, work-work. I believe there is value in liberal arts education, but we should really try to accomplish this in high school. Our society will continue to suffer for its lack of investment in education- but more so in early education.

Sep. 02 2014 12:27 PM
Morgan from Manhattan

I work in education and believe that every educator and parent should be required to listen to this show! I just sent links tho this show to all my friends and am specifically highlighting Friedman's term "innovation ready." We need to evolve our educational approaches because while we are pushing our kids to be more creative, they are often lacking in marketable skills. The conversations I heard today made me reevaluate how I utilize innovation in my life and how innovation is reshaping my future.

Sep. 01 2014 06:21 PM
mark l.

Just listened online. Jason Fried needs to be required listening for the people who run my workplace. We're just wasting so much time in meetings and check-ins, and it's gotten ridiculous. I definitely find myself working during the weekend and even on Labor Day because I can't get enough done during the week! I've never heard of this guy before, but he's brilliant!

Sep. 01 2014 06:08 PM
Zack L from Brooklyn

I think Andrew McAfee and Eric Brynjolfson make really good points about how the nature of our economy is changing. If we want Americans to be employed, we'll need to think differently about how to educate them and what kinds of roles we'll want them to have. A very interesting and thought-provoking discussion.

I thought this was a really interesting special and made my drive back from LI much more bearable.

Sep. 01 2014 04:30 PM
mick from Inwood

So when only 1/10 of 1% of the entire world has an opportunity for a "middle class" level of income, who will buy the goods they produce? If past experience shows anything, it is that demagogues will turn the dismal boredom of life in an oppressive, depression economy into the lively pastime of riot and revolution. Mr. Friedman is a one-man buzz word factory who sees the obvious and puts a catchy phrase to it. I can see him (from a safe, deniable distance) waving on the troops at the barricades as soon as it becomes fashionable enough to sell a few thousand books. Well done, in word if not indeed.

Sep. 01 2014 02:32 PM
Francois from Philadelphia

Congrats on a nice show, Cara. It's a bit scary to hear Friedman guarantee that my job as an academic is about to go down the drain, but aside from that, I thought you did a great job interviewing your guests. Keep it up!

Sep. 01 2014 11:36 AM
Tom from Manhattan from New York

This is another attempt to put a glossy surface on the terrible dislocations that are growing in our economic lives. The entrepreneurial solution that your program and Mr. Friedman put forward is empty. It will not provide a living to the vast majority of our people, however enthusiastically Friedman pitches his voice. The show's lesson is, to paraphrase Voltaire's Dr. Pangloss, 'All is the best in this best of all possible future-think." It's not. We face an economic system that is unparalleled in its rapaciousness, in its removal of wealth from the working and middle classes, and the accumulation of wealth by the richest few.

"Entrepreneurial thinking" may serve a lucky few well, but 90% of all small businesses fail, no matter how hard the owner tries, or how she innovates. It cannot be an answer to this economy of impoverishment... no matter how positive Friedman tries to sound. Let's figure out how an economic system, based on human need and not greed, might work.

Aug. 31 2014 06:41 PM
anne from bklyn

wish we could see transcripts of these discussions. i want to send to my nephews, but they'll never commit to a podcast.

Aug. 31 2014 06:25 PM

Very interesting. I think that the nature of innovation is that it tends to be very hard to predict, so it was neat to hear all these experts chime in with their thoughts. I'm intrigued to hear more about innovation in the future!

Aug. 31 2014 03:38 AM

I think the show was an exemplar of high polished jazzy tech wisdom for an making a lot of money and giving the world you're making it from short shrift. There was another a nice Markeplace Money report this AM too, like that, Tara Mohr's guide to how Women can do well selling themselves without qualifications like Men do. No doubt playing fast and loose is a way to "get ahead". It's clearly also a path to success leaving you with "fancy footwork" as your backup plan, AND creates a world like that, a world in which we sell more vaporware and illusions than realities.

Take the vision promoted heartily in the show here the upcoming "miracle of the machine". I'm a systems physicist. What a whole system view helps do is to show the whole picture. The data shows a transformative change in how the economy was changing in 1970, I think fairly accurately characterized as the effect of "automating the bottom line", using tech for making business decisions... to multiply tech.

My research notes are just "notes" but they show the curves splitting apart with no convergence seemingly possible other than the ultimate "correction" of our great mistake in the end. The problem is that the "tech" version of "bottom line" completely neglects(being just a bunch of rules for ratios) is the shift of the economy from being *people centered* to being *money centered*.

It directly results in using tech to move the earnings of the economy from *working humans* to *investing humans* is where the knife cuts the glossy skin of the package. It's a wholesale dislocation in the natural organization of society, and so has a long list of obvious defects. Two of particular note we're already seeing writ large. The painful and progressively growing inequity in incomes globally. The deepening lack of demand for the products tech makes, since the people displaced can no longer buy them. These are fundamental and intractable dilemmas for an economy, easy to see if you take a whole system view.

Aug. 30 2014 08:12 AM
Mark from Mount Vernon

Cara, in referring to Pulitzer, you said PEW-lit-sir. The family pronounces their name PUL-it-sir.

Aug. 30 2014 07:26 AM

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