Work/Technology 2050: Scenarios and Actions (Order print or download)

Report on a three-year international study that produced three detailed scenarios, conducted 30 national workshops in 29 countries, identified hundreds of action distilled to 93 that were assessed by hundreds of futurists and related experts in over 50 countries.

Cover of Work/Technology 2050: Scenarios and Action

​​​​​​​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.
— Vint Cerf, Internet Pioneer

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 20 countries. The purpose of these workshops was to identify 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 to avoid the looming disasters forecast by others and how to change the world for the better.

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 in 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 thirty “future of work” studies to find what questions were not asked and those that were answered inadequately. This formed the basis for a questionnaire (referred to as a Real-Time Delphi or RTD) to answer these questions. The results were used to create three draft scenarios to 2050 (alternative stories that connect the world in 2050 to the present with cause and effect links that illustrate decisions). Each scenario received a critical review by international panels of futurists and relevant experts selected by The Millennium Project’s Nodes around the world (these Nodes are groups of institutions and people that connect global and local perspectives and research). Each scenario is about ten pages full of rich details about plausible developments from today to 2050.

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.

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.”

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.

“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.”​

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, Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the Panel for Future of S&T (STOA)

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)

The report explains that since everything seems to be becoming increasingly more complex, it is reasonable to assume that the actions to address this transition will also be complex. It concludes by saying, “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.”

English Executive Summary and Front matter (free)

Spanish translation of the Executive Summary (free)

Italian translation of the Executive Summary (free)

Portuguese translation of the Executive Summary (free)

Order the full report: print ($45.95) or download ($25.95)


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The Future Work/Technology 2050 Study

(Mira aquí la versión en español)

Stephen Hawkins, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates are warning the world about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence (AI) growing beyond human control. “Whether AI does or does not become the nightmare of some science fiction, we are certain it will have fundamental impacts on the nature of work, worldwide. And the world needs to think seriously about this now, because it may take a generation or more to make serious changes necessary to improve our work-technology future prospects,” says Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project. “A growing body of AI experts believes that if socio-political-economic systems stay the same, and technological acceleration, integration, and globalization continue, then half the world could be unemployed by 2050.”

To address this challenge, The Millennium Project launched a Future Work/Technology 2050 study with nine phases:

  1. Literature and related research review (completed)
  2. Real-Time Delphi international survey (completed)
  3. Road maps and scenario drafts (completed)
  4. Real-Time Delphi feedback on the draft road maps and scenarios (completed)
  5. Final scenarios, policy implications, and production of an initial report (completed)
  6. Initial report as input to national planning workshops (completed)
  7. Collect and distill suggested actions from the national workshops
  8. Assess the suggested actions via five Real-Time Delphi’s: one each for for the workshops groups of education/learning; government/governance; business/labor; culture/arts/media; and science and technology
  9. Final report for public discussion

The Millennium Project has created three alternative Future Work/Technology 2050 Global Scenarios as input to national workshops to explore potential strategies to address the issues raised in these scenarios. These scenarios and workshop suggested actions to address the issues in the scenarios are available in Chapter 4 of the State of the Future 19.1. So far 29 countries have created national workshops.

The future of work and increasing income gaps are among the most discussed topics of long-term prospects at the moment. However, systemic perspectives and global as well as local strategies to improve the long-term outlook are often lacking.

Abstracts of the three Scenarios

2050 Scenario 1: It’s Complicated – A Mixed Bag. A business-as-usual trend projection of the increasing acceleration of change with both intelligence and stupidity characterized decisionmaking. Irregular adoption of advance technology; high unemployment where governments did not create long-range strategies, and mixed success on the use of universal basic income. Giant corporation’s powers have often grown beyond government control, in this government-corporate, virtual-3D, multi-polar world of 2050.

2050 Scenario 2: Political/Economic Turmoil – Future Despair. Governments did not anticipate the impacts of artificial general intelligence and had no strategies in place as unemployment exploded in the 2030s leaving the world of 2050 in political turmoil. Social polarism and political grid-lock in many forms have grown. Global order has deteriorated into a combination of nation-states, mega-corporations, local militias, terrorism, and organized crime.

Scenario 3: If Humans Were Free – the Self-Actualization Economy. Governments did anticipate the impacts of artificial general intelligence, conducted extensive research on how to phase in universal basic income systems, and promoted self-employment. Artists, media moguls, and entertainers helped to foster cultural change from an employment culture to a self-actualization economy.

The draft scenarios and the summary of the results of the Real-Time Delphi conducted to collect inputs on them is available in the 2015-16 State of the Future.

Short Background – Why this study is so critical

Long-term and large-scale strategies are needed to address the potential scope and spectrum of unemployment and income gaps in the foreseeable future due to the acceleration, globalization, and integration of technological capacities and population growth. Future artificial intelligence that can autonomously create, re-write, and implement software simultaneously around the world is a unique historical factor in job displacement. Meantime, the Internet is a historical factor in job creation.

The Millennium Project’s initial review of recent research on the future of work and income gaps shows that in existing research, there is great attention to problem description, but few specifics about forecasts of potential job displacement: how many, where, and by when. These studies also do not offer global and local strategies on the scale necessary to address these problems and tend to under rate long-term accumulative technological capacities. Such long-range thinking is required since it might take decades to make major world structural changes. An innovative strategic thinking approach is needed about fundamental changes in the nature of work, economics, and education that will be required to prevent mass unemployment and increased income gaps.

Some key facts and questions for the future that the study will attempt to address:

  • The Pew Research Center found that the “experts” are nearly evenly divided about whether future technology will replace more jobs than it creates by 2025.
  • The World Bank has shown that the rate and level of poverty is falling worldwide; however, the income gaps are growing: Oxfam found that the richest 1% of the population owns about 46% of global wealth, while the bottom 50% of the population barely owns some 0.7% of the world’s wealth, about the same as the world’s 85 richest people.
  • The OECD estimates that technology is likely to account for some 80% of the drop in the labor share among its members.
  • Since the rate of return for investments into high tech and financial instruments is so much greater than investment into labor, the income gaps are likely to increase, making the world increasingly unstable.
  • According to the World Bank, a billion people will enter the job market over the next ten years, while one projection expects 2 billion jobs to be lost by 2030.
  • How many researchers, service agents, lawyers and other professionals will IBM’s Watson replace by 2020, 2030, and 2050? What new capabilities will be created by Google’s artificial brain R&D, and the brain projects of US, EU, and China by 2050? How many traffic police and taxi, bus, and truck drivers will driverless vehicles replace? How many call center employees will interactive voice AI systems replace? What could the impact of 3-D and 4-D printing be on international trade, initially for simple things like plastic toys, but later for more complex things? Some jobs are likely to be replaced even before they are created such as future AI robots in Japan for elderly care workers.

Why this study by The Millennium Project

The Millennium Project has the background and network of experts around the world, eager to explore some of the most important long-range issues and strategies of our time with more solution specificity than previous studies.

It has already conducted an initial review of existing studies on these issues. Also, it has been tracking the question “How can ethical market economies be encouraged to help reduce the gap between rich and poor” in its annual State of the Future reports for the past 18 years, and continually updates this research online in the Global Futures Intelligence System ( In 2009, it conducted an international assessment of 35 factors that might influence the emergence of the next economic system (e.g., non-ownership like the Internet; simultaneity of information generation and reception worldwide; synthetic biology; new forms of wealth measures and Internet-based self-employment).

This year, The Millennium Project’s 50 Nodes around the world have rated “addressing the future of work and income gaps” as a top priority for its research program. Considering its worldwide network of futurists, non-partisan, inter-disciplinary, and transinstitution character, The Millennium Project has a unique advantage in conducting such a study.

Therefore, we are looking for support to conduct the study. Please use the “Donate” button below or if you are interested to discuss options for supporting such a study, we would be happy to hear from you and discuss any questions or feedback you might have.

Press Release, PRWEB, December 1, 2014:
Will Artificial Intelligence, Robots, Nanotech, Synthetic Biology and Other Forms of Futuristic Technology Replace More Work than They Create?

The Millennium Project is launching a new study to explore global long-term structural unemployment, new forms of work, futuristic economics, and strategies for governments, corporations, universities, NGOS, and individuals to pursue for improving global prospects.

Future artificial intelligence that can autonomously create, re-write, and implement software simultaneously around the world is a unique historical factor in job displacement says Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project, and adds that, “the Internet is also a historical factor in job creation. Information and means of production are far more open and distributed in the forthcoming biological and artificial intelligence revolutions than they were during the industrial revolution and the information revolution; hence, the frontiers for work may be greater than the information age revolution.

The Chairs of The Millennium Project’s 50 Nodes around the world were asked to rate 19 potential global futures research studies as to their priority to be performed by the project. The future of work and income gaps was rated the most important. “Long-term and large-scale strategies are needed locally, nationally, and globally to address the potential scope and spectrum of unemployment and income gaps in the foreseeable future due to the acceleration, globalization, and integration of technological capacities, population growth, and current economic assumptions,” says Elizabeth Florescu, Director of Research of The Millennium Project.

The Pew Research Center found that leading experts are divided about whether future technology will replace more jobs than they create by 2025. “The assumptions behind both of these potential futures should be identified, assessed, and explored in depth for their long-term implications and systematically discussed in workshops around the world,” says Cornelia Daheim, Chair of The Millennium Project’s Node in Germany and Head of International Projects at Z_punkt the Foresight Company. Individuals and institutions interested in being involved in this research are invited to contact the Project.


Español (Spanish Version)

El Futuro del Trabajo y las Estrategias de Globales-Locales para Mejorar las Perspectivas A Largo Plazo

En este momento,  el futuro del trabajo y el aumento de las brechas de ingresos se encuentran  entre los temas más discutidos sobre  perspectivas a largo plazo. Sin embargo, a menudo faltan  las perspectivas sistémicas y globales, así como las estrategias locales para mejorar el pronóstico a largo plazo. El Millennium Project tiene previsto abordar esta brecha e invita a donaciones para apoyar el estudio.

El Millennium Project es un organización estadounidense sin fines de lucro 501 (C) (3); por lo tanto, para los contribuyentes de Estados Unidos, la donación es deducible de impuestos.

Antecedentes – ¿Por qué este estudio es tan importante?

Se necesitan estrategias a largo plazo y a gran escala para abordar el alcance potencial y el espectro de las brechas de desempleo y de ingresos en el futuro próximo,  debido a la aceleración, la globalización y la integración de las capacidades tecnológicas y el crecimiento demográfico. La Inteligencia artificial Futura que autónomamente puede crear, reescrbir, e implementar software de forma simultánea en todo el mundo,  es un factor histórico único en la pérdida de trabajo. Mientras tanto, el Internet es un factor histórico en la creación de empleo.

La revisión inicial del Millennium Project de las investigaciones recientes sobre el futuro de las brechas de trabajo y de ingresos muestra que en la investigación existente, hay una gran atención a la descripción del problema, pero pocos detalles sobre las previsiones del potencial de pérdida de trabajo: cuántos, dónde y cuándo. Estos estudios también no ofrecen estrategias globales y locales en la escala necesaria para hacer frente a estos problemas y tienden a subestimar las tasas sobre las capacidades tecnológicas acumulativas a largo plazo. Se requiere tal pensamiento a largo plazo, ya que podría tomar décadas el hacer cambios estructurales importantes del mundo. Se necesita un enfoque innovador de reflexión estratégica sobre los cambios fundamentales en la naturaleza del trabajo, la economía y la educación que se requiere para evitar el desempleo masivo y el aumento de las diferencias de ingresos.

Algunos hechos clave y preguntas para el futuro que el estudio intentará abordar:

  • El Centro de Investigación Pew encontró que los “expertos” están casi uniformemente divididos sobre si la tecnología del futuro reemplazará más empleos de los que crea en el año 2025.
  • El Banco Mundial ha demostrado que la tasa y el nivel de pobreza está disminuyendo en todo el mundo; sin embargo, las diferencias de ingresos están creciendo: Oxfam encontró que el 1% más rico de la población posee alrededor del 46% de la riqueza mundial, mientras que el 50% de la población apenas posee el 0,7% de la riqueza del mundo, aproximadamente la misma que la que poseen las 85 personas más ricas del mundo.
  • La OCDE estima que es probable que la tecnología represente alrededor del 80% de la caída de la participación del trabajo entre sus miembros.
  • Debido a que la tasa de retorno de las inversiones en alta tecnología y los instrumentos financieros es mucho mayor que la inversión en mano de obra, las brechas de ingresos es probable que aumenten, haciendo que el mundo se vuelva cada vez más inestable.
  • De acuerdo con el Banco Mundial, mil millones de personas entrarán en el mercado de trabajo en los próximos diez años, mientras que la proyección estima que para 2030, se pierdan  2,000’000,000 de empleos.
  • ¿Cuántos investigadores, agentes de servicio, abogados y otros profesionales de Watson de IBM serán substituídos en 2020, 2030 y 2050? ¿Qué nuevas capacidades serán creadas en 2050 por los proyectos del cerebro artificial de I & D de Google y los proyectos de investigación del cerebro de los EE.UU., la UE y China? ¿Cuántos policías de tráfico y de taxis, autobuses y conductores de camiones sin conductor serán sustituidos por vehículos? ¿Cuántos empleados del centro de llamadas serán reemplazados por sistemas de voz interactivos  de IA ? ¿Cuál  podría ser el impacto de la impresión en 3-D y 4-D para estar en el comercio internacional, inicialmente para cosas simples como los juguetes de plástico, pero más tarde para cosas más complejas? Algunos trabajos son susceptibles de ser reemplazados incluso antes de que se creen como futuros robots de IA en Japón para los trabajadores de edad avanzada.

¿Por qué este estudio debe ser realizado por El Millennium Project?

El Millennium Project cuenta con los antecedentes y la red de expertos en todo el mundo, deseosos de explorar algunos de los temas y estrategias de nuestro tiempo con más especificidad de solución que los anteriores estudios de largo alcance más importantes.

Ya se ha llevado a cabo una revisión inicial de los estudios existentes sobre estos temas. Además, se ha hecho un seguimiento a la pregunta “¿Cómo se puede alentar a las economías de mercado éticas para ayudar a reducir la brecha entre ricos y pobres” en su Informe Anual del State of the Future y los  informes de los últimos 18 años, y actualiza continuamente esta línea de investigación en la Sistema de Inteligencia de Futuros Globales ( En 2009, llevó a cabo una evaluación internacional de los 35 factores que pueden influir en la aparición del próximo sistema económico (por ejemplo, no propiedad como Internet; la simultaneidad de generación y recepción de la información en  todo el mundo; la biología sintética; las nuevas formas de medidas de riqueza y el autoempleo basado en Internet).

Este año, 50 Nodos del Proyecto del Milenio de todo el mundo han calificado como “abordar el futuro de las brechas de trabajo y de ingresos” como una prioridad para su programa de investigación. Teniendo en cuenta su red mundial de futuristas, no partidista, interdisciplinario, y el carácter transinstitucional, El Millennium Project tiene una ventaja única para la realización de dicho estudio.

Por lo tanto, estamos buscando apoyo para llevar a cabo el estudio. Por favor, utilice el botón “Dona” abajo, o si usted está interesado en discutir las opciones para apoyar un estudio de este tipo, estaríamos encantados de saber de usted y discutir cualquier pregunta o sugerencia que pueda tener.

Detalles sobre el estudio propuesto

Aunque los detalles del enfoque pueden ser discutidos con los patrocinadores y estamos abiertos a intereses específicos, una instantánea de lo que imaginamos, por ahora incluye:

1) Una revisión y meta-análisis de los estudios existentes sobre los temas: Esta será apoyada  por la investigación existente del Millennium Project y sus muchos Nodos, así como por la riqueza de datos de su Sistema de Inteligencia de Futuros Globales.

2) Un Delphi en Tiempo Real (DTR) basado en expertos globales: Los Nodos del Millenniun Project identificarán a las personas más interesantes en sus países y los alentarán a abordar estas cuestiones a través de un cuestionario en línea deL DTR y otros mecanismos para entablar un diálogo con sus pares alrededor el mundo.
3) Los formatos de diálogo sobre cuestiones críticas futuras: Tenemos la intención de invitar  a los Agregados relevantes de embajadas en Washington DC y a sus gobiernos a participar en el diálogo y también ayudarnos a identificar las cuestiones clave y los mejores expertos en sus países para responder a ellas. El Millennium Project tiene experiencia trabajando en estudios anteriores de manera similar sobre  la Ciencia con agregados y agregados militares.
4) Construir escenarios alternativos: Las aportaciones del estudio hasta el momento se utilizarán para desarrollar algunos escenarios completos en el futuro de las brechas de trabajo y de ingresos que ilustrarán los vínculos plausibles de la  causa y efecto y las decisiones con repercusiones para la investigación, la formación, los sistemas de innovación, la educación , y la futura política y los sistemas económicos. Los tomadores de decisiones del sector privado y el público también serán invitados a los debates y a la creación de los escenarios.
5) Recomendaciones y difusión estratégicos: A partir de los conocimientos derivados de los escenarios y el estudio en su conjunto, no se harán recomendaciones estratégicas con las acciones respectivas. Los resultados del estudio serán publicados y compartidos en los foros y en los talleres de todo el mundo dirigidos por los Presidentes de los Nodos del Millennium Project y los representantes de los patrocinadores (si están interesados).

Comunicado de Prensa, PRWEB 1 de diciembre de 2014:
¿ La Inteligencia Artificial, la Robótica, la Nanotecnología, la Biología sintética y otras formas de la tecnología futurista reemplazarán más el trabajo del que creen?

El Millenniun Project está lanzando un nuevo estudio para explorar el desempleo estructural mundial a largo plazo, nuevas formas de trabajo, economías futuristas, y las estrategias de los gobiernos, empresas, universidades, ONG y personas para realizar actividades tendientes a la mejora de las perspectivas mundiales

“El futuro de la inteligencia artificial de forma autónoma puede crear, reescribir e implementar software de forma simultánea en todo el mundo, como  un factor histórico único en la pérdida de trabajo”, dice Jerome Glenn, Director General del Millennium Project,  y añade que, “el Internet también es un histórico factor en la creación de empleo. La información y los medios de producción estarán mucho más abiertos  y distribuidos en las próximas revoluciones de inteligencia biológicos y artificiales de lo que estaban durante la revolución industrial y la revolución de la información; Por lo tanto, las fronteras para el trabajo pueden ser mayores que la revolución en la Era de la información.

Se pidió a los Presidentes de los 50 Nodos del Millennium Project de todo el mundo evaluar y priorizar los 19 posibles estudios de investigación sobre futuros globales que debería realizar El Millennium Project . El futuro de los vacíos de trabajo y de ingresos fue calificado como el más importante. “Las estrategias a largo plazo y a gran escala se necesitan a nivel local, nacional y global para abordar el alcance potencial y el espectro de las brechas de desempleo y de ingresos en el futuro próximo debido a la aceleración, la globalización y la integración de las capacidades tecnológicas, crecimiento de la población, y las hipótesis económicas actuales “, dice Elizabeth Florescu, Directora de Investigación del Millennium Project.

El Centro de Investigación Pew encontró que los principales expertos están divididos sobre si la tecnología del futuro reemplazará más empleos de los que creará para 2025. “Los supuestos detrás de estas dos posibles futuros deben ser identificados, evaluados y explorados en profundidad,  por sus implicaciones a largo plazo y discutirse sistemáticamente en talleres de todo el mundo “, dice Cornelia Daheim, Presidenta del Nodo del Millennium Project en Alemania y Jefe de Proyectos internacionales de la la Compañía Foresight  de Z_punkt.  Se invita a las personas y a las instituciones interesadas en esta investigación a contactar al Millennium Project.