Sharp changes are afoot throughout the globe. Demographics are shifting, technology is advancing at unprecedented rates, and these changes are being felt everywhere. How should we develop strategies to deal with this emerging new world? We can begin by understanding it.
Classical approaches can work. That was the message delivered by discussants at our roundtable on the interaction of emerging technologies with the domestic economy. Education, migration, and responsive regulatory policy were all offered as examples of policies that have worked before to help the United States economy take advantage of rapid changes while mitigating their disruptions. It's tempting to frame rapid technological change as an unprecedented challenge for this country, and one requiring unprecedented forms of governance. Similar arguments were, for example, to try to deal with the unexpected inflation of the early 1970s through "new methods" such as draconian economy-wide wage and price controls. Those failed spectacularly and sent the U.S. economy on a decade-long spiral. Our discussants therefore warned against throwing out orthodox policies for untried alternatives, as the result of doing so would be to replace one set of uncertainties—the complexity of the coming change itself—with two.
The twenty-first century will be the century of intelligent machines. Artificial intelligence (AI) has begun to transform the economy as it as enables machines to do more and more of the cognitive tasks that were once done only by humans. In the coming decade, many existing tasks will be replaced by machines, while new ones will emerge. Almost every job will be affected in some way and most will need to be redesigned. Businesses will rise and fall depending on how well they understand, foster and harness the changing skills that are needed to be productive. Economies will thrive if they can create and update the institutions needed to create these skills.
The consumer internet has exacerbated the discrimination problem. The business model that sits behind the front end of the internet industry is one that focuses on the unchecked collection of personal information, the continual creation and refinement of behavioral profiles on the individual user, and the development of algorithms that curate content. These actions all perpetuate the new pareto optimal reality of the commercial logic underlying the modern digitalized media ecosystem: that every act executed by a firm, whether a transfer of data or an injection of content, is by its nature necessarily done in the commercial interests of the firm because technological progress has enabled such granular profiteering.
International migration has been steadily increasing in every region of the globe since the end of the Second World War. In 2017, approximately 258 million people reside outside of their country of birth (3.4 percent of the world’s population) and over the past half century, individual mobility has increased at a steady pace. Tens of millions of people cross borders on a daily basis, which adds up to roughly two billion annually. International mobility is part of a broader trend of globalization, which includes trade in goods and services, investments and capital flows, greater ease of travel, and a veritable explosion of information. While trade and capital flows are the twin pillars of globalization, migration is the third leg of the stool on which the global economy rests.
Since 2012, the California Community Colleges (CCC) system has been driving transformation of its workforce mission to better address labor market needs. From 2012–2018, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) deepened its commitment to modernizing the system’s career and technical education (CTE) programs and infrastructure. The approach taken by the CCCCO was informed by two public policy principles surfaced through the convenings of the California Economic Summit: 1) approach the State as a set of regional economies rather than a monolithic one, and 2) expand CTE capacity in order to provide skilled workers needed by regional economies.