The ideas presented in this selection of op-ed articles by researchers within the Workable Futures Initiative are provocations meant to inspire insights to help you navigate the new landscape of labor economics and non-traditional livelihoods.

Marina Gorbis: Universal Basic Assets—A Better Society for All?

Marina Gorbis | July 24, 2018

Marina Gorbis at CWC
Photo: Jean Hagan/Institute for the Future

In this podcast, Marina Gorbis discusses the concept of universal basic assets (UBA), a framework developed at IFTF in response to the technology-driven reshaping of jobs and work and rising levels of economic inequality. Why do we need UBA now, and what would a UBA plan look like?

Listen on Commonwealth Club


Building Workable Futures: IFTF Fellows prototype Positive Platforms for tomorrow’s on-demand economy

Marina Gorbis | August 30, 2017

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What happens after designers, engineers, policymakers, and labor organizers all around the world gather to hack away on platform prototypes, design frameworks, financial tools, data management systems to tease out the hidden problems inherent in many platform models? IFTF’s Positive Platforms Fellows set out to develop four very different solutions.

Read more on Medium


There Could Be a Real Solution to Our Broken Economy. It’s Called ‘Universal Basic Assets.’

Marina Gorbis | April 4, 2017

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In this moment of massive wealth inequality​,​ we urgently need to develop a new model for society to deliver both social and economic equity. The answer may be in the concept of Universal Basic Assets (UBA),​ which​ in my definition​ is​ a core, basic set of resources that every person is entitled to, from housing and healthcare to education and financial security.

Read more on Medium


Making the Gig Economy Work for Everyone: Ideas and Prototypes at IFTF’s Positive Platform Design Jam

Mark Frauenfelder | December 15, 2016


The platform economy can have something for everyone. People needing goods or services get what they want, people who have the time and skills to provide the goods and services get paid, and people who built and invested in the platforms that connect customers with providers get a cut of the action. Win-win-win, right?

Read more on Medium


Why There’s No Such Thing As A Skills Gap

Marina Gorbis | September 30, 2016


Paul Krugman has called our widespread belief in the existence of a severe “skills gap” a zombie idea—an idea that should have been killed by evidence but refuses to die. Hardly a day goes by when a candidate for a political office does not propose investments in training and re-training as a panacea for stagnating wages and growing income inequality.

Read more on GE Reports

Prosperity by Design

Marina GorbisSeptember 19, 2016


Automation has tremendous potential to create prosperity. With sufficient demand, automation facilitates the increases in productivity and efficiency that are fundamental to driving economic growth. But it also increases the risk of human dislocation. This is a familiar historical pattern.

Read more on Democracy Journal

Design It Like Our Livelihoods Depend on It: 8 Principles for Creating On-Demand Platforms for Better Work Futures

Marina Gorbis and Devin Fidler | April 4, 2016

The design of “Positive Platforms” — platforms that not only maximize profits for their owners but also provide dignified and sustainable livelihoods for those who work on them, plus enrich society as a whole — is one of the most urgent tasks we are facing today.

Read more on Medium

Designing a New Operating System for Work

Marina Gorbis | December 9, 2015

Today’s emerging platforms and ways of working may seem new and alien, but let’s remember that the way we work, the way we organize ourselves to create value, has gone through equally radical transformation in the past.

Read more on Medium

Here’s how management can be replaced by software

Devin Fidler | April 21, 2015

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Fortune 500 executives spend a fair amount of time thinking about how automation and the Internet are changing the nature of employment, but they rarely wonder how technology will have an impact much closer to home: on their own jobs.

Read more on HBR

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