The impact of intelligent tools is ours to create.  


Beyond Hype and Despair: Developing Healthy Communities in the Era of Intelligent Tools

Martin Kenney, John Zysman, and Laura Tyson

Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto, Innovation Policy White Paper Series, January 2019

Hype and despair: many analyses of AI and other intelligent tools swing between these two extremes. But imagining either the most fantastic or the most catastrophic scenarios can obscure understanding of intelligent tools’ practical and immediate impact on employment, productivity, public policy, and other areas. In this essay, BRIE's John Zysman, Martin Kenney, and Laura Tyson analyze the current narratives on technology, and take a step toward developing sustainable and equitable communities in the era of intelligent tools. Download: "Beyond Hype and Despair: Developing Healthy Communities in the Era of Intelligent Tools," by Martin Kenney, John Zysman, and Laura Tyson.


Labor in the Platform Economy: New Work Created, Old Work Reorganized and Value Creation Reconfigured

Dafna Bearson, Martin Kenney, and John Zysman

BRIE Working Paper Series, May 2019

How do platform organizations create new jobs and reorganize old work? And how is value created in the platform economy? Platforms have profoundly altered market logic and dynamics, and challenge us to rethink the ways we define labor and value creation. In this paper, Dafna Bearson, Martin Kenney, and John Zysman present a new taxonomy of platform work that focuses on the reorganization of work in the platform era and apply this framework to the work generated by Etsy and Amazon publishing.

Download: "Labor in the Platform Economy: New Work Created, Old Work Reorganized, and Value Creation Reconfigured," by Dafna Bearson, Martin Kenney, and John Zysman


Unicorns, Cheshire cats, and the new dilemmas of entrepreneurial finance

Martin Kenney and John Zysman

Venture Capital: An International Journal of Entrepreneurial Finance, March 2019

What happens when the flow of private funds into so-called "Unicorns" ever slows or reverses? Will they turn into "Cheshire cats" and fade rapidly, leaving only a grin? Since the dot-com crash, digital startups have tapped the gusher of venture capital financing to run prolonged, massive losses while undercutting incumbents across sectors. In this article, BRIE co-directors Martin Kenney and John Zysman critically examine the sustainability of this financing model; if not, we may see a prevalence of firms whose early exits enrich founders and venture capitalists, but whose eventual failures hang other investors out to dry. Download: "Unicorns, Cheshire Cats, and the New Dilemmas of Entrepreneurial Finance" by Martin Kenney and John Zysman.


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BRIE contributes to Guardian article on venture capital and IPOs

October 21, 2019

A recent article in the Guardian quotes extensively from BRIE co-directors John Zysman and Martin Kenney's article "Unicorns, Cheshire Cats, and the New Dilemmas of Entrepreneurial Finance." "[Kenney and Zysman] argue that many of the companies hailed for disrupting entire industries have done so by raising huge amounts of VC, which allows them to undercut their rivals," writes Josephine Moulds.

Technology Briefing: Is domain knowledge or technical sophistication more important for leadership in AI?

October 15, 2019

Today's AI is certainly powerful. But reliant as most of these systems are on machine learning, they have fundamental limitations. And these limitations have implications for AI’s development, application, and impact in the coming years. Our second technology briefing will describe machine learning’s fundamental nature as a form of statistical inference, and explore how this constricts effective use of today’s AI to certain kinds of problem domains. Through the lens of this limitation, it will then take a position in three debates over how AI will unfold.

BRIE research cited in Wall Street Journal piece on founders and IPOs

October 14, 2019

BRIE co-director Martin Kenney was recently mentioned in Wall Street Journal article on founders and IPOs for his data contribution. "In this time of controversy about the dismissal of the CEOs of venture capital-backed unicorns such as WeWork and Uber, Martin Kenney's data shows that at the time of the Initial Public Stock offering approximately 35% of the CEOs are firm founders," writes WSJ's Katie Roof.

Technology Briefing: Will 5G be a catalyst for growth, or a financial burden?

September 8, 2019

Is 5G revolutionary? Will wireless technology not only update our network, but spark deep and widespread change across economies, industries, and the lives of consumers? 5G hype certainly abounds. But 5G may be difficult to put into practice.  Despite the drumbeat of hype, it is not clear how quickly 5G will be deployed, or how transformative it will be when it does arrive. Our first in a series of briefings on emerging technologies with implications for work and employment explores the promises and limitations of 5G through the lens of four critical issues.

Platforms, Work, Cheshire Cats, and Dependent Entrepreneurs: Recent Publications

April 16, 2019

"(W)e must proceed in a way that allows citizens, in their multiple roles as workers and consumers, to participate in shaping the future, not just allowing it to happen to them. It is not a matter of robots coming, but rather one of how to direct the evolution of platforms and the development and deployment of intelligent tools and systems."

Cite: Martin Kenney and John Zysman, Intereconomics