Technology has been rapidly advancing, and along with it has come an increased reliance on artificial intelligence, algorithms, and other forms of computer programming. Can we trust these programs to uphold our values of inclusion, diversity, and fairness?

Brent talks to Robert Elliot Smith, an artificial intelligence expert and author of “Rage Inside the Machine: The Prejudice of Algorithms, and How to Stop the Internet Making Bigots of Us All”, about the flaws of, and history behind, these complex and increasingly influential tools.

Nowhere was the economic shutdown caused by the spread of the coronavirus more apparent than in the nation’s the major cities that became the early epicenters of the pandemic. When cities reopen, will the people and businesses who left come back?

This episode of Hardly Working is an interview Brent Orrell did with Bob Zadek from the Bob Zadek Show. They discuss the changes cities underwent during the virus, the history of cities in times of pandemics, and reflections on what happens next in our urban centers.

Policymakers and parents alike have been encouraging young people for decades to pursue STEM degrees and careers so they could become financially and socially successful. Does the data support the assumption that going into STEM fields leads to a good career?

Brent talks to Dan Cox, a Research Fellow at AEI, and Kadeem Noray, a PhD candidate in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, about a recent AEI report on the long-term outcomes for STEM graduates. They discuss the earnings potential in STEM, the rate that people leave the field, and the barriers experienced by women and minorities.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, people across the nation have been urgently calling for meaningful police reform, and better treatment of minority groups by law enforcement.

Brent talks to Harry Holzer, the LaFarge SJ Professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University and Nonresident Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution on the quantitative evidence surrounding racial disparities, crime, and policing. They also discuss the economic ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, and what the path towards recovery looks like.

The nation’s prison systems have many demands on their limited resources. To use those resources effectively, we need to connect individuals with the right intervention for their needs and risks. Automated risk-need-responsivity (RNR) assessments help take the guess-work out of prisoner transitions, improve efficiency, and increase the chances for success.

Brent talks to Grant Duwe, Research Director for the Minnesota Department of Corrections and AEI Adjunct Scholar, about the role of algorithms in reducing criminal behavior and re-incarceration.

What started as working from home for a few weeks to flatten the curve of COVID-19, has instead turned into months of telecommuting with no end in sight. While working remotely has presented both benefits and challenges, many workers and employers are asking themselves, is this a permanent change in how we work?

Brent talks to Clive Thompson, a science and technology journalist, about his recent New York Times Magazine article, “What If Working From Home Goes On…Forever”. They discuss the academic research and anecdotal evidence on recent boosts in productivity, feelings of isolation, and challenges in implementing watercooler-style talk when your colleagues are no longer across the hall, but through a screen.

The past few months have brought an onslaught of new policies attempting to curb the spread of COVID-19, but were they the right decisions based upon the data we have about the virus?  And what comes next?

Brent talks to Lyman Stone, an Adjunct Fellow at AEI and a Research Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, about his agreements and critiques on the way the United States handled the management of the pandemic. He also offers advice about how to handle future such outbreaks while avoiding widespread lockdowns.

The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence and machine learning in recent decades has had a ripple effect throughout the economy. As the economic landscape continues to change, we are once again asking ourselves about what the future of work looks like, and, when it comes to computers exactly who will be working for whom.

Brent talks to Amy Webb, CEO of the Future Today Institute and author of several books, including “The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity”. They discuss the uncertainty surrounding artificial intelligence, its impact on how we work, and the importance of a liberal arts education in remaining competitive in a changing economy.

Local workforce boards are tasked with implementing federal and state policies to get their communities back to work. In a field burdened by red tape and regulations, their full potential is seldom realized. Local workforce leaders in Austin, Texas, however, developed the Austin Metro Area Master Community Workforce Plan to navigate the unique challenges facing their workforce.

Brent talks to a panel of experts from Austin, including Tamara Atkinson, Drew Scheberle, and Greg Cumpton, as well as AEI Adjunct Fellow Mason Bishop and former AEI Research Assistant Caleb Seibert. They discuss the importance of public and private sector collaboration, the role of good leadership, and the indispensable role of local data collection.

Millions of youth are neither in school nor working, falling through the cracks of the various systems put in place to help them transition into adulthood. The spread of COVID-19 will become another barrier in these young people’s lives as they pursue economic independence.

On this episode, Brent talks to Anne Kim, author of “Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection”. Together, they discuss the runway to adulthood, the role of public policy, and the potential impact of a global virus on emerging adults.

We use highly sophisticated algorithms and data to help us understand the world around us, but how much does the approach really tell us? The uncertainty and unpredictability of the world is not easily reducible to statistics.

Brent talks to Michael Blastland, author of “The Hidden Half: How the World Conceals its Secrets”, about the uncertainty of the world around us, the negative effects of false confidence, and the challenges of using data to guide COVID-19 policy.

People are natural problem solvers. When we work with low-income families to identify and tap into their resources and communities, we are laying the foundation for generational community change. It is time to develop alternative solutions in the fight against poverty that will empower people to become change agents in their own lives.

Brent talks to Mauricio Miller, author of “The Alternative: Most of What You Believe About Poverty is Wrong” for a conversation about focusing on people’s strengths, supporting “positive deviance”, and lifting up poor communities during COVID-19.

Federal, state, and local governments have a myriad of programs and initiatives to assist people in finding and retaining meaningful employment. Like most government programs, these systems are complicated and difficult to navigate. The question has to be asked, are these programs actually effective?

Brent talks with Mason Bishop, adjunct fellow at AEI and the owner and principal of WorkED Consulting, on the future of federal workforce development programs.

As the labor market evolves, so do skills demands. While average Americans have access to good education and training opportunities to help them build their skills, other populations struggle. Those with mental and physical impairments, people with criminal records, older workers and others struggle with access to training and employment. So, how can we ensure everyone in the modern economy has access to the training needed to find meaningful work?

Brent talks to Steve Preston, CEO of Goodwill Industries International and the former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Together, they discuss the dignity of work, the impacts of COVID-19, and the changing nature of the labor market.

Are prisons designed to punish, rehabilitate, or a combination of the two? At age 17, Chris Wilson was sentenced to life in prison, but he developed a list of goals – his “master plan” –  to help him become the man he knew he wanted to be, despite being behind bars. 16 years later, Chis was granted parole. Since then, he has dedicated his life to giving back to his community, building multiple businesses, and supporting returning citizens.

Chris joins Brent to discuss COVID-19 in prisons, prison culture, and Chris’ new book “The Master Plan: My journey from a life in prison to a life of purpose”.

Technology and robotics have been transforming the global economy for decades, particularly in manufacturing. Recent technological advances like artificial intelligence, ‘big data’, and internet communications are now exposing other sectors of the American economy to foreign competition. What does this mean for current and future workers?

Brent talks with Richard Baldwin, a professor of international economics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, for a discussion on his latest book “The Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics, and the Future of Work (Oxford University Press, 2019)”.

600,000 Americans are released from prison every year, and nearly two-thirds of them will be rearrested for new crimes within three years. Many attempts at reducing criminal recidivism have yielded disappointing results, leading researchers and policymakers to ask ‘what works’ in improving the odds of a successful return to society?

Brent Orrell is joined by Pamela Lattimore, Senior Director for Research Development at RTI International, to discuss her chapter in AEI’s recent volume, “Rethinking Reentry.” Join us as talk about the state of reentry research and how to move the conversation from “nothing works” to “what might work better?”

Can the writings of an 18th century philosopher help the modern person find meaning and purpose? Before he wrote the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote another book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which helps us understand how a good life, one marked by both prosperity and personal happiness, is achieved.

Join Brent Orrell and Ryan Hanley, a professor of political science at Boston College, for a discussion of his latest book “Our Great Purpose: Adam Smith on Living a Better Life (Princeton University Press, 2019)”.

Babies begin learning from the moment they are born, absorbing and processing the world around them. However, their ability to process and understand large quantities of information diminishes over time. Research shows that if a child enters kindergarten behind, they are unlikely to catch up to their peers. Because of this, the early years of life are crucial to human capital development and our nation’s ability to maintain an efficient and productive workforce.

In this episode, AEI Scholar Katharine Stevens and Brent discuss how quality child care is a form of workforce preparation.

Family is the seedbed of skill development for young children: relationships within the family influence a child’s development in all areas of their life. Furthermore, as family structure has morphed and shifted over the past few decades, so have the economic outcomes for children.

In this episode, Brent Orrell hosts Alan Hawkins of Brigham Young University and W. Bradford Wilcox of AEI to discuss marriage, family life, and the economics of family formation. Join us as they discuss the impact of family structure on long-term outcomes for kids.