Five TED talks on the future of work

As inventors rush to create mind-blowing bits of kit that have the power to transform our daily lives forever, is there anyone out there pausing to think about the real impacts of technology on our lives, our psyches and our society? In the following TED talks, you’ll be able to navigate all the possibilities, and equip yourself with wisdom that will carry you through the changes.

1. Andrew McAfee: What will future jobs look like?

Economist Andrew McAfee suggests that, yes, probably, droids will take our jobs – or at least the kinds of jobs we know now. In this far-seeing talk, he thinks through what future jobs might look like, and how to educate coming generations to hold them.

2. Barry Schwartz: The way we think about work is broken

What makes work satisfying? Apart from a paycheck, there are intangible values that, Barry Schwartz suggests, our current way of thinking about work simply ignores. It's time to stop thinking of workers as cogs on a wheel.

3. Kenneth Cukier: Big data is better data

Self-driving cars were just the start. What's the future of big data-driven technology and design? In a thrilling science talk, Kenneth Cukier looks at what's next for machine learning – and human knowledge.

4. Lisa Gansky: The future of business is the “mesh”

Lisa Gansky, author of "The Mesh," talks about a future of business that's about sharing all kinds of stuff, either via smart and tech-enabled rental or, more boldly, peer-to-peer. Examples across industries – from music to cars – show how close we are to this meshy future.

5. David Autor: Will automation take away all our jobs?

Here's a paradox you don't hear much about: despite a century of creating machines to do our work for us, the proportion of adults in the US with a job has consistently gone up for the past 125 years. Why hasn't human labor become redundant and our skills obsolete? In this talk about the future of work, economist David Autor addresses the question of why there are still so many jobs and comes up with a surprising, hopeful answer.