Human Work (Hardcover)

In the Age of Smart Machines

By Jamie Merisotis

RosettaBooks, 9781948122627, 224pp.

Publication Date: October 6, 2020

List Price: 25.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


The robots might or might not be coming to take our jobs, but it’s clear that society is being thrust into a new era of human work.

Jamie Merisotis, author of the award-winning 2016 book America Needs Talent, argues that people will coexist with smart machines by learning, earning, and serving others over their lifetimes. But Merisotis asserts large-scale change is necessary to develop and hone the knowledge, skills, and abilities that render us uniquely human. These qualities include compassion, critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and interpersonal communication.

In Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines, Merisotis proposes radically different approaches to making learning available that expands human capabilities in the age of smart machines—approaches that give meaning and purpose to a broader range of human work, including paid and volunteer activities that serve others. Merisotis calls for urgent action to develop new learning systems that are easy to navigate, deliver fair results, and meet talent needs through a broad range of credentials, including everything from college degrees to industry certifications.

Along the way, he profiles nearly two dozen of today’s workers whose stories illustrate where human work is headed—and how work is changing in unprecedented ways as technology and artificial intelligence take over more of the repetitive tasks humans used to do.

About the Author

Jamie Merisotis is a globally recognized leader in philanthropy, education, and public policy. Since 2008, he has served as president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. He previously served as co-founder and president of the nonpartisan, Washington, D.C.–based Institute for Higher Education Policy and as executive director of a bipartisan national commission on college affordability appointed by the U.S. president and congressional leaders. Merisotis is the author of America Needs Talent, which was named a Top 10 Business Book of 2016 by Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association.

Merisotis is a frequent media commentator and contributor. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, National Journal, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Politico, Roll Call, Washington Monthly, and other publications.

His work includes experience as an adviser and consultant in southern Africa, the former Soviet Union, Europe, and other parts of the world. A respected analyst and innovator, Merisotis is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Merisotis serves as chairman of the Council on Foundations in Washington, D.C., and past chairman of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the world’s largest museum for children. He also serves on the boards of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and the United Kingdom–based European Access Network. He lives with his wife Colleen O’Brien and their children, Benjamin and Elizabeth, in Indianapolis.

Praise For Human Work : In the Age of Smart Machines

“As a leader who understands that talent is at the very heart of our national economic success, Jamie Merisotis insightfully explains how we must transform ourselves into a society of lifelong learners and build a new human work infrastructure. This book is a must-read and provides a smart roadmap to create more inclusive opportunities for more Americans.” —Penny Pritzker, Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Entrepreneur, and Civic leader

“This book is a refreshing alternative to sensationalistic claims that AI, robots, and automation will soon replace a majority of human workers. Merisotis presents an inclusive vision of the growing need for work that only humans can provide, with constructive steps that educators, leaders, and workers themselves can take to increase their employability and life satisfaction now and in the future.” —Ken Goldberg, Roboticist and William S. Floyd Jr. Distinguished Chair in Engineering, University of California, Berkeley