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Professor at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business
Welcome to the “New Economy”, as digitalization has opened up limitless possibilities for innovation – from the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) to the rise of digital platforms – the foundations of society and assumptions about trust have been disrupted and upended.
Arun Sundararajan's videos
What Arun Sundararajan's clients say
"Information technology is disrupting a host of industries including transportation, hotels, banks, and marketplaces. The very nature of work is changing. Sundararajan offers an insightful guide to the forces shaping our economy today-and tomorrow."
"Sundararajan has taken all the loose talk about the sharing economy and given it a rigorous and readable treatment. He makes it clear that there is no one model for these new economic forms, but that taken together, they represent a profound shift in how we think about everything from utility to capital to labor to employment."
"Fortunes have already been made in the sharing economy, yet the biggest impact on business and our daily lives is yet to come. There's no better guide to this transformation than Arun Sundararajan's book."
Arun Sundararajan's 2023 biography
Arun Sundararajan Renowned Economist
Professor Arun Sundararajan says these transformations amount to the decline of one kind of economy, “managerial capitalism” (when institutions drive markets) and the ascent of the sharing economy, or what Sundararajan calls “crowd-based capitalism.”
The reinvention of trust mechanisms and the unraveling of corporate hierarchies have significant implications for existing companies, startups and the future of work itself and Sundararajan is the world’s foremost academic to analyze this monumental shift.
For more than two decades, Professor Sundararajan, the Robert L. and Dale Atkins Rosen Faculty Fellow at New York University’s (NYU) Stern School of Business, has researched, written, taught and spoken about the economics behind the digital transformations occurring in business and society. His work, which holds a new lens to the future of business and technology, provides actionable strategies for how to prepare for the fast-changing digital world. Sundararajan’s best-selling book, “The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism,” (MIT Press, May 2016) is the seminal work on this radical development in how people buy, sell, travel and work and has become an influential resource to business leaders across the world seeking to understand how our shopping and sharing behaviors are changing.
As his thinking evolved, Sundararajan has found the sharing economy to be just one aspect of a broader restructuring of business and society by digital technologies. In addition to speaking to large and small enterprises about how to realize value from sharing-economy models, Sundararajan reveals to global audiences the business and societal implications of emerging technologies, such as AI, deep learning, the blockchain, robotics and autonomous vehicles; the changing nature of trust and the new ways in which individuals interface with institutions; and the forces that will radically shape the workplace, including the restructuring of human labor and the effects of automation on the future of work over the next 20 years.
A highly respected researcher, Sundararajan advises tech companies at various stages on issues of strategy and regulation, and non-tech companies from a wide range of industries trying to understand how to forecast and address changes induced by digital technologies, artificial intelligence, the blockchain and other disruptive innovations. Sundararajan has also provided expert input about the digital economy as part of Congressional testimony and to various city, state and federal government agencies, including the Presidential Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, the National Economic Council, the Federal Reserve Bank, the White House and the Federal Trade Commission.
Sundararajan has published more than 50 scientific papers in peer-reviewed academic journals and conferences and has given more than 200 invited talks at industry, government and academic forums around the world. His research has been recognized by six Best Paper awards, two Google Faculty awards and a variety of other competitive grants. Sundararajan teaches in five different NYU Stern Executive Education programs in the U.S., Europe and Asia, primarily focusing on digital strategy. He also teaches full-time MBA students about digital entrepreneurship, undergraduates about networks, crowds and markets and doctoral students about digital economics. Sundararajan is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Technology, Values and Policy, a Fellow of the Urban Design Forum and serves as an advisor to numerous organizations that include the city of New York, the city of Seoul, the Female Founders Fund, the Internet Society of China, Samasource, OuiShare, the National League of Cities, the Royal Society for the Arts and the Center for Global Enterprise.
A sought-after source for expert insights and perspectives by top media platforms, Sundararajan’s more than 35 op-eds and frequent expert commentary have appeared in TIME, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, Wired, TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Harvard Business Review. He has spoken on numerous NPR shows and appeared on television shows around the world, including those on BBC, Bloomberg TV, CBS, CNBC, CNN and PBS.
Professor Sundararajan earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and a master’s in management science and doctorate in business administration from the University of Rochester.
Arun Sundararajan's 2023 talks & topics
Making Business Sense of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) seems poised to transform business, but many executives struggle to grasp its immediate and long-term implications and separate the hype from what might generate genuine value. Drawing examples from industries as diverse as retail and transportation to law and financial services, Arun Sundararajan breaks down the business effects of AI into three categories:
- Its impact on decision making based on big data;
- The changes it induces in consumer behavior and platform power, and
- Its potential to automate the workforce.
Sundararajan provides a framework for capitalizing on the potential AI has to change business and how to make effective business decisions about AI technologies. Audiences leave this presentation with greater clarity about the technologies and business transformations associated with AI, acquiring a deeper understanding of topics that include:
- How the emergence of AI is connected to the growth in computing power and the evolution in general-purpose technologies;
- The business differences between AI and machine learning;
- Why “deep learning” is generating so much excitement;
- How to create a forward-looking and realistic AI strategy, and
- Whether the shift away from human-generated code and characteristics and toward machine-defined induction and feature definition are potentially revolutionary.
Sundararajan’s research also reveals surprising patterns in the attitudes that employees and executives have toward this new generation of technologies and offers insight into whether the societal dangers of inequality, algorithmic bias and unintended consequences posed by AI are real or overstated.
Capitalizing on the Sharing Economy and Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism
In the 18th century economy of Adam Smith, most business was conducted between individuals; the one-person shop and the small business were the heart of the economy. Over the next two centuries, we witnessed the emergence of the organizational economy, with most economic activity conducted in large cohesive companies with managerial hierarchies and full-time employees. This economy still dominates the U.S. and Western Europe today – but the tides are changing. We are now entering a third phase, transitioning from 20th century managerial capitalism to 21st century crowd-based capitalism. Platforms like Uber, Airbnb, Didi Kuaidi, Etsy and Handy – what we collectively call “the sharing economy” – are early examples of a future in which peer-to-peer exchange is increasingly prevalent and the crowd replaces the corporation at the center of capitalist enterprise. Arun Sundararajan makes sense of the massive venture capital investments being made in the sharing economy, explaining the convergence of digital and socioeconomic forces that have catalyzed the transition. He outlines how business models will change in industries ranging from real estate and transportation to energy and healthcare, and what companies need to do thrive in this new economy. He also discusses how this shift to crowd-based capitalism alters what drives economic growth, the nature of regulation, the sources of commercial trust and risk, what it means to have a job, and how connected we are to each other.
The Shifting Landscape of Trust
Trust is the foundation of the economy and society, and an understanding of trust allows one to understand the present and future of business. Arun Sundararajan, one of the world’s leading scholars on the economics of digital trust, explains how human history can be delineated by “phases of trust,” each of which has resulted in a radical shift in the world’s economy. Drawing on his research into reputation systems, institutions, automation and social networks, Sundararajan will demonstrate that we are now entering the “fifth phase,” which will include a new melding of the individual and the institution as well as implications for risk management, regulation and the connectedness of human society.
The Digital Future of Work
Two significant forces will radically reshape the US workplace over the next twenty years: first, an ongoing shift from full-time employment towards freelance, “gig economy” and platform-based work, and second, an acceleration in the pace of automation of human labor, driven by robotics technology and artificial intelligence. Recent politics in the U.S. and the U.K. highlight the deep connection between changes in work and changes in the social fabric.
Arun Sundararajan connects the vague press projections about the distant future with ongoing developments in digital intermediation and on-demand labor that can help you plan your workforce strategy for the immediate future. His cutting-edge thinking separates the hype from reality, and provides an informed picture about the future of work, the societal implications of the impending transformation, and the pace at which it might occur. His framework will enable you to understand what to expect in your industry, and the actionable strategies you can use to thrive in tomorrow’s digital workplace.
Arun Sundararajan's 2023 speaking fees
- United States
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