Does Digital Disruption Lead to Fewer Jobs or More Jobs?

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks with Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

How is today’s digital disruption different from other major historical shifts in the US economy? It’s happening much faster. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, posits that when the country transitioned from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy, it was a generational change. “In the past there was enough time for the person being displaced to retire, so that their children could get skilled in something else and find a job.” That’s no longer the case. Our emerging tech-based economy is happening within a generation. “This entire notion that somehow I’ll go to school, I’ll get educated in a skill, and I’ll get a job, and that’s it. I think those days are over,” Nadella says. He believes workers will need constant training to keep up with technological changes. “We see it in high tech,” he says. Microsoft is constantly re-skilling software engineers. Advancements lead to newly-created jobs, requiring a nimble workforce. “How do we enable people to be more creative?” Nadella asks. “What tools can we build to be able to learn, but also apply that learning to create?” Below, watch Nadella's discussion with Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson from the Aspen Ideas Festival.


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