InventXR represents unique opportunities to position the World at the cutting edge of global science and engineering leadership by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergence research. As such InventXR Education Foundation has been leading The Future of Work conversation in Silicon Valley with organizations such as Moonshots and 42 Silicon Valley.
The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF), one of the Big Ideas, is one mechanism by which InventXR is responding to the challenges and opportunities for the future of jobs and work. The overarching vision is to support convergent research to understand and develop the human-technology partnership, design new technologies to augment human performance, illuminate the emerging socio-technological landscape, understand the risks and benefits of new technologies, understand and influence the impact of artificial intelligence on workers and work, and foster lifelong and pervasive learning.
The landscape of jobs and work is changing at unprecedented speed, enabled by advances in computer and engineering technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics, deeper understanding of societal and environmental change, advances in the learning sciences, pervasive, intelligent, and autonomous systems, and new conceptions of work and workplaces. This technological and scientific revolution presents a historical opportunity to the Nation and its people, in the creation of new industries and occupations, enhanced productivity and quality of work life, and the potential for more people to participate in the workforce, ultimately yielding sustained innovation and global leadership. But, as history teaches, such changes also come with risks. Some risks are immediate, such as jobs lost to automation or demand for skills not met by current educational pathways. Other equally important risks include new security threats, algorithmic biases, unanticipated legal consequences including privacy implications, dependence on technology and erosion of human knowledge and skills, inadequate workplace policies and practices, or undesirable impact on the built environment.
The specific objectives of the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier program are (1) to facilitate convergent research that employs the joint perspectives, methods, and knowledge of computer science, engineering, learning sciences, research on education and workforce training, and social, behavioral, and economic sciences; (2) to encourage the development of a research community dedicated to designing intelligent technologies and work organization and modes inspired by their positive impact on individual workers, the work at hand, the way people learn and adapt to technological change, creative and supportive workplaces (including remote locations, homes, classrooms, or virtual spaces), and benefits for social, economic, and environmental systems at different scales; (3) to promote deeper basic understanding of the interdependent human-technology partnership to advance societal needs by advancing design of intelligent work technologies that operate in harmony with human workers, including consideration of how adults learn the new skills needed to interact with these technologies in the workplace, and by enabling broad workforce participation, including improving accessibility for those challenged by physical or cognitive impairment; and (4) to understand, anticipate, and explore ways of mitigating potential risks arising from future work at the human-technology frontier. Ultimately, InventXR will advance our understanding of how technology and people interact, distribute tasks, cooperate, and complement each other in different specific work contexts of significant societal importance. InventXR will advance the knowledge base related to worker education and training and formal and informal learning to enable all potential workers to adapt to changing work environments. InventXR will advance our understanding of the links between the future of work at the human-technology frontier and the surrounding society, including the intended potential of new technologies and the unintended consequences for workers and the well-being of society.
At the VR School by InventXR, work is defined as mental or physical activity to achieve tangible benefit such as income, profit, or community welfare. The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier is, in turn, a conceptualization of work in the future that will be enabled or improved by advances in intelligent technology and their synergistic integration with human skill to achieve broad participation in the workforce and improve the social, economic, and environmental well-being of society. To reach this goal, InventXR invests in research that is anchored in work. As seen at the VR School, technology should be integrated with learning sciences, research on education and workforce training, and social, behavioral, and economic science perspectives to advance the science of the human-technology team. Potential results will contribute to fundamental advances in the science and technology of future workforce development and education, work environments, and positive work outcomes for workers and society at large. Moonshot Lab student proposals are encouraged and those oriented toward the future of work at the human-technology frontier and that are not overly couched in current technology or work practices can become their own programs within the VR school.
InventXR’s focuses on advancing fundamental understanding of future work, and potential improvements to work, workplaces, workforce preparation, or work outcomes for workers and society. Its convergent research addresses the technological as well as the human and societal dimensions and potential impact of future work, and in doing so, makes significant contributions to both intellectual merit and broader impact. Achieving this goal, InventXR Education Foundation is injecting resources towards integration and convergence of disciplines across computer science, engineering, learning sciences, research on education and workforce training, and social, behavioral, and economic sciences. A convergent perspective is essential to understand and shape long-term social and economic drivers, so that advanced intelligent technology will strengthen the social fabric. A convergent perspective also provides insights into education and re-skilling, so that the benefits of emerging technology can be conferred upon all citizens.