Christoffer Rudquist for WIRED, 2017

The future of work – and some would argue the future of the world – depends on the myriad ways we use and implement technology. The machines humans have created – in a lot of ways an image of themselves – are eager creatures, as some would fear, to surpass and replace us. It is the stuff of blockbuster movies and for blockbuster companies. Steve Bezos presented this walking giant of a robot in 2017 at the company’s MARS conference, which stands for Machine-learning, Automation, Robotics and Space exploration. It is four meters tall, made of aluminium and translates the movements of the person standing in the cockpit into movements of his own. When the human lifts an arm, the machine lifts an arm. The use for this could be nuclear waste or other cleanup efforts. A machine to undo what machines and technology have done.

Economic Transformation

How might a different economy work?

Our economy must serve our social needs and respect our planetary boundaries, simultaneously. This is currently not the case; we are on an unsustainable path. Our economic activities have contributed to inequalities within our societies across various dimensions, depriving basic human needs and putting political systems under stress. Our economic activities are also responsible for progressing climate change and diminishing biodiversity, putting the earth’s natural capital at high risk with catastrophic consequences for life and livelihoods. Our future depends on our ability to transform our economic system – to take stewardship in transforming our economic systems in accordance with our collective goals.

This programme is about the economic transformation. We will explore how we can transform our current economic system in a way that meets human social needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the environment. This requires, first and foremost, reliable measures of progress so that we can evaluate our economic, social and environmental development and impact. Businesses must take responsibility for their contribution to society and the planet, and not only to shareholders. They must report their contributions accordingly. Additionally, we must address the world of work, how we are remunerated and how the welfare state needs to evolve to achieve social progress.

The following questions will be explored:

  • How can we develop and monitor consistent measures of economic, social and environmental prosperity?
  • What are effective policies for promoting economic, environmental and social prosperity?
  • What are the measures of policy effectiveness that should guide politics on wellbeing?
  • What are prime barriers against the implementation of long-standing ideas for sustainable economies and how can we overcome them?
  • Which scales and actor coalitions are most promising for a systemic rethinking and implementation of innovative economic models?
  • How could the Covid19 crisis ignite deeper structural change for sustainable prosperity?
  • Is it possible to manage the economy in a way that allows for the regeneration of natural resources?
  • How can concerns about social decline be managed in an unstable world?

Where do we currently stand and how to become involved

Together with the Programme Director for Economic Transformation, Dennis Snower, we are currently in the process of conceptual clarification for a fellowship programme. The first cohort of fellows is expected to take up their work by October 2022. Fellow work will start with a focus on issues of measurement, taking up suggestions by policy-makers, and will also take into consideration concepts of a well-being economy. If you are interested in applying, please check our Website section Fellowships for further information.

Dr. Dennis Görlich, Proragmme Manager



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