MIT Sloan Hack4theFuture aims to innovate for the acceleration of the Future of Work in the age of COVID-19


Hackathon is open to the public and will take place November 6-8, 2020

Cambridge, Mass., October 19, 2020—In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person health care switched to telemedicine and digital health, businesses quickly had to adapt to remote work, and supply chain disruptions affected manufacturing and necessitated challenging resource allocation decisions. The nature of work had been changing for decades. COVID-19 accelerated that trajectory.

Umbereen S. Nehal, MD, MPH, a current MIT Sloan Fellow, lead organizer of Hack4theFuture, and former Chief Medical Officer

In anticipation of the complex business and healthcare operations this winter and the virtual solutions that will need to be extended well into 2021, MIT Sloan is hosting Hack4theFuture. Hack4theFuture is a 48-hour virtual event that will focus on this accelerated transition and on humanizing artificial intelligence for the future of work and systems in the age of COVID-19. The hackathon is part of the MIT COVID-19 Challenge series with Hack4theFuture taking place November 6-8, 2020.

Many of the challenges that the hackathon will address were predicted in discussions of what the Future of Work would entail—namely the increasing use of artificial intelligence, automation and robotics and their potential to displace workers or encode biases. Now, some of those feared Future of Work solutions are helping to keep us safe while maintaining vital business operations. With the right people at the table, AI-enabled solutions can continue to advance technology while serving humanism and equity goals.

Hack4theFuture will be the first of the series focused on the Future of Work. Open to the public, this female-led hackathon aims at capturing all those interested in applying an entrepreneurial mindset to move forward into a future of anti-fragile systems while bringing everyone along. All are welcome to apply by 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, October 30.

Michael Akinyele, former founding Chief Innovation Officer of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The kickoff on November 6 will feature keynote speaker Michael Akinyele, former founding Chief Innovation Officer of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Akinyele says, “While the impact of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Health on the U.S. healthcare system remains nascent, to scale, solutions must improve health outcomes and eliminate unnecessary spend."

On November 6, participants will gather and form teams to solve key problems within three themes: AI and the Future of Work and Teams; AI and the Future of Healthcare; and AI and the Future of Systems. Over the following 48 hours, teams will iterate on these ideas with the assistance of mentors and collaborating organizations.

On November 8, participants will reconvene to present their final pitches to judging panels, and winning teams will be selected per track. After the weekend, the best ideas and teams will enjoy an ecosystem of mentorship to co-develop and implement their solution. Through ongoing collaboration with companies and institutions, Hack4theFuture will create an accelerated pipeline for adoption into enterprise. This ensures that the best ideas help to optimize systems needed for the immediate future.

“COVID-19 disrupted many previously change-resistant industries like healthcare and the public sector,” says Umbereen S. Nehal, MD, MPH, a current MIT Sloan Fellow, lead organizer of Hack4theFuture, and former Chief Medical Officer. “With reports of cases rising again, we need sustained creativity in crisis and anti-fragile systems. This is especially important for effective COVID-19 vaccine distribution which experts consider the most important way to end the pandemic.”

Jagjit Dhaliwal, MIT Sloan Executive MBA student, part of the Hack4theFuture leadership team, and current Deputy CIO of Los Angeles County, asks “What does the work look like in a post-COVID world? We need to reimagine business processes and operations while re-inventing the customer experience. While the future of work brings a new era of digital experience, it will pose new challenges of the digital divide, inclusivity, cyber-security, work-life balance. Artificial Intelligence adaption will grow significantly to activate new opportunities in data, analytics, and automation areas.”

Hack4theFuture is sponsored by the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, MIT Innovation Initiative, MIT Hacking Medicine. The event is co-sponsored by the MIT Sloan Entrepreneurship Club.

This virtual event follows on the heels of the India Turning the Tide Challenge held August 28-30, 2020. Earlier hackathons in the MIT COVID-19 Challenge included the MIT COVID-19 IDEAthon, Beat the Pandemic I, Africa Takes On COVID-19, MIT COVID-19 Datathon, Beat the Pandemic Hackathon II, and Latin America vs. COVID-19.

For more on Hack4theFuture and for a list of collaborators and sponsors, please visit:

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