MIT launched its 2018 Solve Challenges recently, and as ever, they reflect some of the bigger issues of our times.
Solve is MIT’s open innovation marketplace, connecting innovators with resources to solve global challenges, and it boasts highly prestigious people and organisations in its membership community as well as on its advisory board. This year’s four challenges are on Coastal Communities, Teachers and Educators, Frontlines of Health, and of particular interest to us here at Solverboard, Work of the Future (we’ve talked about this topic a bit in the past).
The Work of the Future challenge aim is very close to our hearts, as it asks for solutions to help those workers who risk being left behind or disadvantaged by the changing workplace: those in jobs most at risk of automation or of being changed beyond all recognition by the growing power of artificial intelligence. This is a pressing and challenging issue, as we enter an industrial revolution at least as significant, if not more so, than the first one that changed the shape of our cities and countrysides for ever.
In some regards, this challenge feels a bit more like a tech scouting exercise than an ideation challenge, in that Solve is fairly clear about what kind of solutions it is looking for – ones that facilitate upskilling or reskilling, and platforms for supporting freelance workers (and Solve is focused on finding primarily technology-based solutions, so this isn’t that surprising). This means that at the time of writing, three out of the six solutions submitted so far are work platforms (and a fourth is too, but in a specific work niche). But there is enough wiggle room in the challenge description for some truly innovative ideas to come through, so it will be interesting to see what people come up with as the challenge progresses.
The challenge is open for submissions until the 1 July – so if you think you have a solution to make work in the future fair, inclusive and fulfilling, then get writing.