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Matt Beane
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Emerging Technology / AI, Robotics & Automation / TED Speakers / Future of Work / Hybrid Work & Work From Home


  • Matt Beane: How do we learn to work with intelligent machines?
    Matt Beane: How do we learn to work with intelligent machines?
  • AOM Scholars On… Top 2023 Trends in the Future of Work
    AOM Scholars On… Top 2023 Trends in the Future of Work
  • Matt Beane: U.S. can lead robotics race with China
    Matt Beane: U.S. can lead robotics race with China
  • Matt Beane: Robo-sabotage is surprisingly common
    Matt Beane: Robo-sabotage is surprisingly common

Learn More About Matt Beane

Artificial intelligence and robotics are increasingly prevalent in business today and play an important and positive role in how we work. But according to Matt Beane, assistant professor in the Technology Management Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, there’s a catch: we’re handling these technologies in a way that threatens our ability to innovate and learn.

Beane is a leading social scientist who studies the relationship between humans and intelligent technologies. His research shows that as tools become more sophisticated, workers get fewer opportunities for on-the-job learning – the kind that involves practice, struggle and mentorship; the very kind necessary to leverage those sophisticated tools. This paradoxical problem as chronicled in his Harvard Business Review article, is leading workers, organizations and even AI itself to “operate in the shadows,” challenging rules and norms in pursuit of results. Beane helps leaders take advantage of AI’s capabilities while enhancing employee skills and the organization’s capacity for innovation.

A Digital Fellow with MIT’s Institute for the Digital Economy who was named to the Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2021 and was shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Digital Thinking Award, Beane examines the implications of AI across industries, from logistics and banking to production and healthcare. His intensive, boots-on-the-ground studies bring him side-by-side with leaders, technologists and workers on the cutting edge of robotics and AI deployments. It’s this type of deep field research that enables Beane to make insightful, surprising links between broad trends and the daily realities organizations face. His teaching and his presentations – including his popular TED Talk, “How Do We Learn to Work with Intelligent Machines,” which has been viewed nearly two million times – draw from years of consulting, interviewing and collaborating with people pioneering new approaches to effectively integrating robotics and AI into critical work tasks.

The former Chief Human-Robot Interaction Officer of Humatics, an MIT-connected, full-stack IoT startup, Beane has studied robotic surgery, robotic materials transport and robotic telepresence in health care, elder care and knowledge work. He has been published in top management publications such as Harvard Business Review and Administrative Science Quarterly. Named a Human-Robot Interaction Pioneer, Beane is a regular contributor to such popular outlets as Wired, MIT’s Technology Review, TechCrunch, Forbes and Robohub. Before his foray into robotics, Beane was a principal for a management consulting firm focused on group and team dynamics.

Beane graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in philosophy. He received his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Matt Beane is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Matt Beane was last modified: March 27th, 2023 by Justin Louis

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Working Alongside Robots Without Sacrificing Learning and Creativity

UC Santa Barbara Professor Matt Beane – one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of intelligent technology in the workplace – presents his visionary research revealing how our productivity-obsessed use of robots and AI threatens the greatest driver of innovation: our ability to learn by working with an expert. Through his pioneering field work, however, he has uncovered the secret to working alongside these disruptive technologies without sacrificing this 40,000-year-old bedrock of human excellence. Named a Human-Robot Interaction Pioneer, Beane’s discovery of the shadow learner – a worker who is still able to hone skills and innovate even when set up for failure – shows us both the potential consequences of the future we are building and how we can all benefit from harnessing shadow learners’ brilliantly deviant strategies for success.

Humans + AI: Learning to Work with Intelligent Machines

The traditional path to skill-building around the world has been taken-for-granted for thousands of years: train under an expert and take on small, easy tasks before progressing to riskier, harder ones. But according to Matt Beane, we’re currently handling AI and other advanced, intelligent technologies in ways that block that traditional path and, in the process, we sacrifice learning in our quest for productivity. It’s a similar story in many industries, from logistics and high tech to investment banking and healthcare. Drawing from both his popular TED Talk and Harvard Business Review article, Beane challenges us to rethink how we work with intelligent machines. In this presentation, Beane explores the present and future of learning how to do our jobs alongside robots and AI. He also outlines the pitfalls and spotlights the opportunities for organizations, managers and workers alike.

Finding Innovation in the Shadows of Your Organization

According to Matt Beane, the way we’re redesigning work to take advantage of intelligent technologies is a key reason we’re not yet seeing massive related gains. We’re driving innovation into increasingly illegitimate places –the shadows of our organizations. As Beane explains, today’s workers have fewer approved opportunities to experiment and adapt on the job. Why? Because sophisticated tools like artificial intelligence are making it easier to watch and measure employee behavior, pushing them to less observable and appropriate practices to learn and innovate. We can still innovate and adapt in this shadowy environment, but the standard playbook won’t do, says Beane. In this presentation, he explores deviance in work involving machine intelligence. He also shares his vision that flips the current reality into one of distributed, AI-enhanced organizations that empower us to innovate out in the open.