Human Work In the Age of Smart Machines by Jamie Merisotis

The robots might or might not be coming to take our jobs, but it’s clear that society is being thrust into a new era of human work.


Jamie Merisotis, author of the award-winning 2016 book America Needs Talent, argues that people will coexist with smart machines by learning, earning, and serving others over their lifetimes. But Merisotis asserts large-scale change is necessary to develop and hone the knowledge, skills, and abilities that render us uniquely human. These qualities include compassion, critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and interpersonal communication.

In Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines, Merisotis proposes radically different approaches to making learning available that expands human capabilities in the age of smart machines—approaches that give meaning and purpose to a broader range of human work, including paid and volunteer activities that serve others. Merisotis calls for urgent action to develop new learning systems that are easy to navigate, deliver fair results, and meet talent needs through a broad range of credentials, including everything from college degrees to industry certifications.

Along the way, he profiles nearly two dozen of today’s workers whose stories illustrate where human work is headed—and how work is changing in unprecedented ways as technology and artificial intelligence take over more of the repetitive tasks humans used to do.

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About the Author

Jamie Merisotis

Jamie Merisotis is a globally recognized leader in philanthropy, higher education, and public policy. Since 2008, he has served as president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the U.S. and a driving force for increasing Americans’ success in higher education. He previously served as co-founder and president of the nonpartisan Institute for Higher Education Policy, and as executive director of a bipartisan national commission on college affordability.

A highly regarded analyst and innovator, Merisotis is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and the leadership council of The Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project on national service. He is frequently sought after as a media commentator and contributor. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, National Journal, Washington Monthly, Huffington Post, Politico, and other publications.

Merisotis commits his time and energies as trustee for a diverse array of organizations around the world, including his alma mater, Bates College in Maine. He lives with his wife, Colleen O’Brien, and their children, Benjamin and Elizabeth, in Indianapolis.