Stanford University

All-Star Panel Headlines the AI & The Future of Work Conference

Sachin Walker | October 22, 2020

3-minute read

AI and digital technologies in general are having a profound impact on the economy, including productivity, business, and policy.

How will work be changed by AI?

That’s the focus of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) Conference and launch event for its new Digital Economy Lab. “Our focus is on how technology – specifically AI and digital technologies – is changing society and the economy,” says Digital Economy Lab executive director Christie Ko, who will serve as event MC. She helps run the lab with director Erik Brynjolfsson, a senior fellow at HAI and at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), who will play a central role as host and moderator during the virtual conference.

The October 27 launch features a range of visionary researchers, executives, and policy experts from the public and private sectors, including LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, and Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne.

Here, Ko answers questions about the launch event and the Stanford Digital Economy Lab’s broader mission. (Register for the free event and see the agenda here.)

What is the Lab’s focus?

Erik Brynjolfsson founded the lab with a mission to better understand the effects of digital technologies, both intended and unintended. If we succeed, our research can help create an economy that truly works for everyone. Our team is working to provide data and insights that will help shape the future of work.

As machine learning and AI systems are deployed, businesses and work are being fundamentally transformed. As part of Stanford HAI, much of our research is focused on understanding how jobs and tasks can be augmented by machine learning. Equally important is providing data and tools that help us work toward designing the AI-augmented jobs of the future. As technology becomes increasingly capable, we believe it is critical to make sure it serves humanity and reflects our values.

What can attendees expect for the launch event?

We see this as a critical time. We’re in the early days of a massive, AI-driven transformation. At this event, we’re bringing some of the biggest thought leaders together to talk about what’s happening for jobs and the economy today and in the future.

This event will highlight the latest thinking from the world’s experts, showcase timely discussions amongst academics, policymakers, and industry experts, and summarize some of the key research that we’re doing at Stanford. We’ve convened an outstanding group of speakers with diverse opinions, experiences, and points of view.

Who should attend?

All who are interested in learning more about how AI is transforming work. Managers, workers, academics, programmers, educators, policymakers, students, CEOs – you name it!

“We’re bringing some of the biggest thought leaders together to talk about what’s happening for jobs and the economy today and in the future.”

Christie Ko

Executive Director, Stanford Digital Economy Lab

What’s something you’re really excited about for the event?

It’s hard to pick just one – the whole event is packed with superstars. Our policy panel includes Condoleezza RiceMary Kay HenryMark Duggan, and Susan Athey, and is moderated by Gillian Tett. That’s an amazing group of people to talk about the policy implications of AI and the future of work. For example, Susan Athey has done groundbreaking work on demographics, labor, and AI adoption. And Mary Kay Henry, who’s president of the Service Employees International Union, will be able to share actual examples of AI being brought into different jobs, especially service jobs. We know there’s a lot already happening – it’ll be great to hear from someone closer to the front line. Add Mark Duggan and Condoleezza Rice to that, with Gillian Tett to keep the group focused on the hard-hitting questions the public wants answers to – you don’t always get that from policy panel discussions. This combination is really unique.

What do you hope attendees take away from the event?

I’m sure some will attend to hear specific speakers like Reid Hoffman or Eric Schmidt. Or to learn about how our research team is building tools to help track and understand the transformation of jobs. But regardless of the specific content people initially tune in for, I hope people come away with the understanding that Stanford is not just creating the best AI technologies; we view studying the impact of AI on human workers and the economy as vital.

That’s a big reason why the Stanford Digital Economy Lab is being launched. We want to help solve these challenges. There’s no guarantee that AI will automatically be a benefit to most workers. We have to take action now to determine what the future holds. It’s through these types of conversations that we’re going to find the best pathways forward – to gain perspective and make informed, good decisions.

Stanford University