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Keeping up with the Robots - maintaining human agency in an automated world

How is technology is affecting human agency? Little thought is spared for the effect that high-tech solutions can have on the workers that operate alongside robots and autonomous systems. Here we look into the impact these technologies have on workers’ identities, sense of agency, and even the ways that knowledge is acquired and perceived.

We also ask - what are the implications for governments in the global south?

 

Co-chairs and academic directors
Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates
Co-chair
Image of Sri Mulyani Indrawati
Sri Mulyani Indrawati
Co-chair
Strive Masiyiwa Image
Strive Masiyiwa
Co-chair
Stefan Dercon
Stefan Dercon
Academic director
Benno Ndulu
Benno Ndulu
Academic director
Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates

Co-chair

Melinda Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Along with Bill Gates, she shapes and approves the foundation’s strategies, reviews results, and sets the overall direction of the organisation. Together, they meet with grantees and partners to further the foundation’s goal of improving equity in the United States and around the world.

Through her work at the foundation over the last fifteen years, Melinda has seen first-hand that empowering women and girls can bring transformational improvements in the health and prosperity of families, communities and societies. In 2012, Melinda spearheaded the London Summit on Family Planning, which adopted the goal of delivering contraceptives to an additional 120 million women in developing countries by 2020. Her work has led her to increasingly focus on gender equity as a path to meaningful change.

The second of four children, Melinda grew up in Dallas, Texas. She received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Duke University in 1986 and a master’s in business administration from the Fuqua School of Business in 1987.

After joining Microsoft Corp. that year, she distinguished herself as a leader in the development of multimedia products and was later appointed Microsoft’s General Manager of Information Products. In 1996, Melinda left Microsoft to focus on her philanthropic work and family.

Image of Sri Mulyani Indrawati

Sri Mulyani Indrawati

Co-chair

Sri Mulyani Indrawati has been the Minister of Finance in Indonesia since 2016; she previously served in this post from 2005 – 2010. In June 2010 she was appointed as Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank Group.

As Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank Group, Indrawati was responsible for the bank’s operations worldwide. She worked closely with client countries and member states to put operational strategies in place that address new and persistent development challenges in support of the World Bank’s goals of ending poverty and promoting shared prosperity.

Indrawati frequently represented the World Bank Group at the G20 and in other international fora. She was also responsible for the strategic direction and policy framework of the Bank’s Fund for the Poorest, IDA, one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries.

Indrawati chaired the World Bank Group’s Advisory Council on Gender and Development, which brings together global leaders and experts on gender issues, including from the private sector.

Indrawati’s earlier positions include head of the Indonesian National Development Planning Agency, executive director at the International Monetary Fund, faculty member at the University of Indonesia, and visiting professor at the Andrew Young School of Public Policy at Georgia State University.

Indrawati holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois and a bachelor of arts in economics from the University of Indonesia.

Strive Masiyiwa Image

Strive Masiyiwa

Co-chair

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group, a pan-African telecommunications, media and technology company with operations and investments in over 20 countries. 

Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards including Unilever Plc, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Group, and the Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury. Masiyiwa also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a position he took over after Kofi Annan’s term. 

As a philanthropist, Masiyiwa is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which has supported the education of over 250,000 African orphans in 20 years. Their family foundation provides scholarships to over 40,000 African orphans every year. 

Masiyiwa has been selected twice, in 2014 and 2017, to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”.

Over the last few years, Masiyiwa has devoted his time to mentoring the next generation of African entrepreneurs through his Facebook page, which has a growing followership of nearly 3-million young people from across the continent. Facebook has identified his platform as the most engaging of any business leader in the world.

Stefan Dercon

Stefan Dercon

Academic director

Stefan Dercon is Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and the Economics Department, and a Fellow of Jesus College. He is also Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies.

Between 2011 and 2017, he was Chief Economist of the Department of International Development (DFID), the government department in charge with the UK’s aid policy and spending. In this position, he provided strategic advice, and was responsible for ensuring the use of evidence in decision making. Previously, he held positions at the University of Leuven (Belgium), UNU-WIDER (Helsinki, Finland) and Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia).

His research interests concern what keeps some people and countries poor: the failures of markets, governments and politics, mainly in Africa, and how to achieve change. Current research work focuses on the psychological challenges of poverty, the political economy of development, the challenges of industrialisation in Africa, the challenges and opportunities of new technologies, and how to finance responses to natural disasters and protracted humanitarian crises.

His latest book, “Dull Disasters? How Planning Ahead Will Make A Difference” was published in 2016, and provides a blueprint for renewed application of science, improved decision making, better preparedness, and pre-arranged finance in the face of natural disasters.

He studied economics and philosophy at the Universit of Leuven (Belgium) and holds an MPhil and DPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford.

Benno Ndulu

Benno Ndulu

Academic director

Professor Benno Ndulu was appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Tanzania in January 2008. He has presided over Tanzania’s macroeconomic stabilisation and has implemented prudent policies overseeing its strong economic performance over the past years. He has supported the expansion of Tanzania’s financial inclusion by licensing commercial banks, introducing agent banking, and tapping into the growth of mobile financial services.

He started his career at the University of Dar es Salaam in the early 1980s before joining the World Bank as a lead economist covering east Africa.

Ndulu is best known for his involvement in setting up and developing one of the most effective research and training networks in Africa, the African Economic Research Consortium. He served as its first Research Director and later as its Executive Director.

He received an honorary doctorate from the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague in 1997 recognition of his contributions to Capacity Building and Research on Africa.

Following his Ph.D. degree in economics from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, Ndulu taught economics at the University of Dar es Salaam, and has published and taught widely on growth, regional integration, adjustment, governance, trade, and investments.

Challenges and opportunities

How will new and emerging technologies affect development in the poorest countries?

Rapid technological change – including artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and robotics – is increasingly shaping our world. What does this mean for developing countries? How can they navigate this shifting landscape, steering a path towards inclusive development and poverty reduction?

The Commission on Technology and Inclusive Development will examine how to turn the potential risks of technological change into opportunities for inclusive development.

Our people

The commission, led by three co-chairs and two academic directors, features commissioners from a wide variety of backgrounds.