Summary of The Shape of Work to Come

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The digital revolution is transforming the work environment at a rapid pace, requiring organizations and job seekers to adapt. However, questions remain as to how exactly workplaces will change, and who will benefit. Science journalist Emily Anthes focuses on three key areas: machine learning, the gig economy and the digital skills gap. getAbstract recommends this article to anyone either anxious or excited about the inevitable digitization of work.  

In this summary, you will learn

  • How machine learning will affect the future workplace,
  • Whether the gig economy harms workers, and
  • Why digital skills do not automatically translate into jobs.

About the Author

Emily Anthes is a science journalist in New York City. 



Self-taught machines won’t replace, but will complement, the work of humans.

Due to their ability to learn on their own, machine learning systems may take over the work of highly skilled people such as accountants, lawyers and physicians. A team of researchers at the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment predict that automation threatens 47% of the jobs in the United States. However, Ulrich Zierahn from the Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim, Germany, corrected that number down to 9%. He found that many jobs considered at risk of automation involve a lot of personal interaction and team work that machines can’t duplicate. Furthermore, companies may delay automation for cost reasons or due to legal or ethical restrictions. Rather than competing with each other, robots and humans may soon be working side by side. For instance, AI may take over routine medical diagnoses, while doctors focus on the complicated cases and spend more time with patients. Similarly, self-driving cars may continue to require human intervention to help them navigate obstacles, such as construction zones or road accidents. 

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