Digital Development Summit 2017: The Future of Work

Technology experts, social scientists, government officials and NGO/civil society representatives met on Monday 13 March in London for an international summit on the future of work in a digital world.


  1. As advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) threaten to disrupt labour markets globally, the summit led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in collaboration with the Web Foundation and Nesta called on businesses and governments globally to urgently look at new ways to create and sustain decent jobs for all.

    Technological advances from self-driving vehicles to automated manufacturing to algorithmic decision making are upending industries such as transportation, textiles, banking and insurance. According to research 47 per cent of jobs in the US and 35 per cent in the UK are at risk of automation and prospects for workers in lower-income countries are predicted to be even worse.

    Speakers and participants at the Digital Development Summit from organisations including Facebook and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD discussed ideas for how businesses can create and sustain jobs and how governments could help enable and support decent work, including universal basic income, levying digital taxes and revamping education and training. They also considered the fact the expected job losses from technological advances stand to disproportionally impact women and the urgent need to ensure the risks and benefits of digital technology are considered in relation to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals Goal 8 ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’.
  2. Pre-event dialogues
    Ahead of the event a Background Paper and series of blogs were published to help stimulate dialogue on the Summit's key themes and expected outcomes. The blogs included:

    - Shaping the future of work in a digital world – why should development organisations care? (Becky Faith and Ben Ramalingham, 17 February)
    - Planning for the future is vital - but 'Uber-isation' is happening now (Abigail Hunt, 23 February)
    - 3 'analogue' factors that affect the future of tech and work for women (Nanjira Sambuli, 2 March)
    - Digital divides in informal work (Jonathan Casey, 7 March)
    - Towards a just transition to inclusive digitalisation (Anna Byhovskaya, 9 March)
  3. Session 1: Opening and Welcome: Why should we be thinking about the future of work in a digital age?

    The Summit was opened by Melissa Leach (Director of the Institute of Development Studies) and Anne Jellema, (Web Foundation). Panelists were Sango Patekile Holomisa (Deputy Minister of Labour, South Africa) and Maggie Boden (University of Sussex). You can watch the opening session and keynote addresses on You Tube.
  4. Some tweets from session 1:
  5. Session 2: Key Note Addresses: What do we know already?
    This session was chaired and opened by Geoff Mulgan (Nesta), and featured Mark Graham (Oxford Internet Institute) and Gina Porter (Durham University). A recording of the keynote addresses are on You Tube.
  6. Tweets relating to session 2 included:
  7. During the breaks participants enjoyed the Work We Want Installation.