MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy to present the On-Demand Economy Conference on March 15, 2016


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., February 23, 2016––The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) is bringing together leading thinkers at the intersection of technology and labor from academia, business, and policy for an On-Demand Economy Conference on the MIT campus. Co-hosted by the Institute for Work & Employment Research and co-sponsored by the Hitachi Foundation and Accenture, the event will be held on March 15, 2016 at the MIT Media Lab, 75 Amherst Street, Building E14 (6th Floor), Cambridge, MA.

Rapid changes in technology are affecting the types of work that we do and the way in which work is organized. Increasingly, platforms are a common denominator – whether they are performing new functions in traditional businesses or generating new business forms. The On-Demand Economy Conference will proactively address emerging challenges through empirically grounded discussion and debate.

Four panels comprised of industry and labor innovators will convene to discuss the following topics:

  • The Future of Jobs and Work; moderated by Andrew McAfee, Co-Director of IDE and a Principal Research Scientist at MIT Sloan School of Management
  • The Role of On-Demand Platforms; moderated by Andrey Fradkin, MIT • The Changing Structure of Labor Matching; moderated by MIT Sloan Professor Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of IDE and the MIT Center for Digital Business
  • The New Social Contract for Labor; moderated by Barbara Dyer, President & CEO of The Hitachi Foundation and Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan

“Twenty-first century innovation is transforming the American workplace, but the government’s 20th century definitions and policies have not kept pace,” said Senator Mark Warner (VA), who will deliver the keynote address. “As new technologies and on-demand platforms allow people to monetize their time, skills, cars, and spare rooms in ways that have fundamentally altered the traditional employer/employee relationship, policymakers need to be thinking about ways we can re-envision the social contract for the 21st century. I’m delighted to be joining so many important thinkers and innovators from the academic, business, and policy spheres as we think about ways to make the on-demand economy work better for more people.”

"Technology is reinventing how people find work, taking it from the analog world to the digital world at a pace so fast that old rules and outdated laws aren't keeping up,” said Jon Lieber, chief economist for Thumbtack and conference panelist. He explains that labor-matching platforms have the ability to empower consumers and service providers, but important decisions that will affect their future that should be made by lawmakers are being left to the courts instead. “Better understanding these platforms is critical if we are to get the regulatory and legal framework right and ensure that we preserve the flexibility and opportunity they provide,” said Lieber.

Sara Horowitz, founder and Executive Director of Freelancers Union, and conference panelist, said “We live in an exciting time when several emerging models of work are coming together. But these are also critical moments where we need to ensure the next generation of workers enjoys the same benefits and protections as traditional 9-5 employees.”

“Wise policy choices are imperative, particularly those relating to labor and labor markets,” said Wilma Liebman, former Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and conference panelist. “The On-Demand Economy Conference, including a wide range of expertise, promises an important and highly informed exploration of these challenges.”

An IDE Inclusive Innovation Competition (IIC) Showcase featuring five organizations representative of competition applicants will be hosted at the conclusion of the conference. Participating organizations will share their groundbreaking work with press and audience members. For more information, please visit

MIT Sloan’s Andrew McAfee will be spotlighting themes from the On-Demand Economy Conference in a Twitter chat on Thursday, March 3, 2016 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. Follow along and ask questions using #OnDemandMIT. For news and updates around the MIT IDE, please follow @MIT_IDE.

To view the agenda and register for the MIT IDE On-Demand Economy Conference, visit

The ODE event is co-hosted by the Institute for Work & Employment Research and co-sponsored by the Hitachi Foundation and Accenture.

The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) explores how people and businesses will work, interact, and prosper in an era of profound digital transformation. Working alone and with public and private sector partners, the IDE supports and conducts groundbreaking research in the areas of productivity and employment, big data, new digital business models, and social analytics. The IDE sponsors fellowships; hosts competitions, conferences, and roundtables; and supports other events that inspire new ideas. The IDE believes that challenges posed by the digital economy not only are solvable, but that technology will create new opportunities for people and businesses to thrive. For more information, visit

The MIT Sloan School of Management is where smart, independent leaders come together to solve problems, create new organizations, and improve the world. Learn more at