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Technology is moving faster than ever before. If we take hold of it right now, we can use it to build a more just and democratic world.

One of the 10 Most Cited Economists in the World | MIT Institute Professor | Bestselling co-author of Why Nations Fail and co-author of Power and Progress

Daron Acemoglu | Author of Why Nations Fail and The Narrow Corridor | One of the 10 Most Cited Economists in the World
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Advances in technology don’t automatically bring social progress, says Daron Acemoglu, one of the 10 most cited economists in the world. Rather, we need to choose to use innovation as a tool for stronger democracy and shared prosperity. Daron is the bestselling co-author of Why Nations Fail, the blockbuster book on why strong institutions are the overlooked key element to building strong nations, and his new book Power and Progress is “the blueprint we need for the challenges ahead” (Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism). As rapid advances in Artificial Intelligence bring us new tools like ChatGPT, Daron shows us how to make these innovations work for everyone, not just an elite few. In talks, he gives us a sweeping overview of the economic and social forces behind the last 1000 years of progress, proving that technology has the potential to create a better world for everyone, if we take hold of it today.

Technology doesn’t have to just serve an elite few, says Daron Acemoglu. We can tap into its massive potential right now, and build a world where everyone benefits from the progress that innovation brings us. In his new book Power and Progress, co-authored with Simon Johnson, he shows us how technology has historically been used to benefit a select few, but we can regain control and turn today’s advances into empowering and democratizing tools. In talks, he gives us the big-picture vision we need to change the way we innovate in order to use our creativity for everyone’s good.

Daron is the editor of Redesigning AI, a look at how new technologies can be put to use in the creation of a more just society. He also published (with Harvard’s James Robinson) The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty: the highly anticipated follow-up to their landmark text, Why Nations Fail. It’s a vital, big-picture assessment of how liberty flourishes in select states, yet devolves into authoritarianism or even anarchy in others—and how liberty can keep thriving, in spite of new, global threats. The Narrow Corridor was named one of both the Financial Times and Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2019. Called “A work of staggering ambition…Smart and timely,” by Newsweek, and “Another outstanding, insightful book by Acemoglu and Robinson,” by Nobel Laureate Peter Diamond, The Narrow Corridor is an essential exploration of liberty for today’s age.

[Daron Acemoglu] is about as hot as economists get.”

The New York Times Magazine

Daron is also the co-author, with frequent collaborator James Robinson, of the New York Times bestseller Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty—a major work of historical, political, and cultural heft that comes along only once every few years. Throughout this ambitious, bracing work (shortlisted for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award), Daron answers a question that has confounded leading minds for centuries: why are some nations rich, while others poor? Instead of looking to weather, cultural practices, or geography, we need to look to institutions, he argues—both strong and poor, political and economic—to understand prosperity and success. Called “required reading for politicians and anyone concerned with economic development” by Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel), and “a splendid piece of scholarship and a showcase of economic rigor” by The Wall Street Journal, Why Nations Fail offers illuminating solutions to our most fundamental economic problems: how to move billions out of poverty, build robust, sustainable institutions, and empower effective democracy.

Daron is an MIT Institute Professor (the highest title awarded to faculty members) and an elected fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society, and the Society of Labor Economists. His academic work covers a wide range of areas, including political economy, economic development, economic growth, inequality, labor economics, and economics of networks. He is the author of five books, including Why Nations Fail and The Narrow Corridor. Daron has also written for mainstream magazines such as Esquire and Foreign Policy, is a regular speaker for banks, think tanks, corporations, and other major institutions across the globe, and has received high-profile attention in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Financial Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Economist, and many more. He also co-edits academic publications, such as The Journal of Economic Growth.

A professor of Applied Economics at MIT, Daron was twice named one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers, as well as the 2019 winner of the Kiel Institute’s Global Economy Prize. He has received the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal for being a top economist under 40, the Nemmers Prize in Economics, the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award, and an Andrew Carnegie fellowship.


Daron gave a very stimulating presentation. He contributed greatly to the success of the conference and it was a real pleasure and honor to work with him.

Union Investment

Speech Topics

Power and ProgressHow We Can Use Innovation and Technology for Everyone’s Good

Technology is advancing faster than ever before. New innovations are bringing rapid changes in the way we learn, work, and live. How do we ensure these technologies are used for widespread prosperity and not just to benefit an elite few?

Drawing on his book Power and Progress, MIT economist Daron Acemoglu gives us a clear-eyed and optimistic roadmap for the challenges ahead. He takes a look back at the past 1000 years of innovation, from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution and beyond, showing us what we can learn from the history of technology and proving that the reins of technology still remain within our hands. We can choose right now to turn today’s technological advances into tools that will benefit us all, and build a more just and democratic society. This talk is a must-listen for anyone interested in innovating more ethically and developing solidarity through the challenges ahead.

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The New Robotic EconomySkills and Employment in the New World of Work

Robots are now everywhere. And while previous waves of technology destroyed livelihoods, they also created new jobs in the process. But that’s not the case today. According to Daron Acemoglu’s original research, evidence shows that robots are reducing wages and displacing workers without ushering in new employments. So—does this spell the end of work for most Americans?

In a keynote addressing robotics, AI, and the future of work, leading labor economics researcher Daron Acemoglu argues that we have mounted an inadequate response to this new technological tsunami. To turn robots into a tide that lifts all boats, we need to create a new economy, based on more flexible skills and new organizations. This requires a total overhaul of our educational system, workplace relations, and fiscal system. We are at a critical juncture, Acemoglu states:  inaction will not only deepen the plight of millions, but will increasingly undermine the foundations of our democracy and sow further discord. The right response, on the other hand, will create shared prosperity and a new world of work.

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The Challenge and Promise of U.S. DemocracyRethinking the Economy for Greater Shared Prosperity

Democracy in the U.S. stands at a crossroads, argues Daron Acemoglu—and it’s due to three massive trends. First, globalization and new technology have increased productivity and profits, but reduced wages and employment for middle-class Americans. Second, the financial crisis and its aftermath revealed the fragility of U.S. growth (and the cozy link between Washington and Wall St.) while destroying trust in our institutions. And third, politics is ever more polarizing, eroding the very norms that made our democracy function for the last century. So how can we rebuild—and rebound? In this timely keynote, Acemoglu argues that we have a crucial choice: we can either buckle in the face of our critical challenges, or we can return from the precipice by creating a new economic compact. By strengthening U.S. civil society, the media, and citizen activism, he argues, we can foster greater shared prosperity and rebuild the foundations of our democratic tradition from the ground up.

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Why Nations FailThe Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

Why are some nations extremely rich while others remain cripplingly poor? And why is the gap between the two widening? If we know why nations are poor, we can help them. And if we know what propels great societies into the future, we can move towards that future today. What separates the haves from the have-nots, Daron Acemoglu argues in this revolutionary keynote, has nothing to do with geography or natural resources, as is commonly believed. Instead, nations live or die on the soundness of their institutions, the fairness of their laws, and the transparency of their governments. Drawing on powerful examples from America to Mexico to Sierra Leone to Singapore, Acemoglu shows us that, with strong institutions in place, individuals (and nations) are given the incentive and the opportunities to achieve and innovate.

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