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MIT Technology Review

New Prizes for Expanding Economic Opportunities

MIT has announced a series of prizes to address the lack of prospects for low- and middle-income workers.

October 7, 2015

In hopes of creating more opportunities for workers who are being left behind by today’s high-tech economy, MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) and Innovation Initiative have announced prizes for projects meant to promote wage equality, improve job prospects, and help people acquire new skills. Erik Brynjolfsson, director of IDE, says the competition is particularly meant to support efforts that will benefit low- and middle-income workers.

Erik Brynjolfsson on the Solve stage.

The announcement of the competition was made at Solve, a conference being held this week at MIT to address the world’s most important challenges. The MIT groups said further details of the prizes would be announced on January 4, with semifinalists to be named on May 19; the prizes will be awarded at next year’s Solve.  They also announced that Alphabet’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, and his wife, Wendy, have donated an undisclosed amount to fund the prizes

Brynjolfsson and his collaborator Andrew McAfee, IDE’s co-director, are the authors of The Second Machine Age. They have written extensively over the last few years on how advances in digital technologies are threatening many types of jobs and exacerbating income inequality.