What if work was non-transactional? How might a 12 hour work week make us feel? And what could degrowth look like in reality?
In a speculative project SALLY, together with the Swedish Public Employment Service, explored what a new type of government institution might look like in Sweden in 2033. A place that responds to Sweden's need for lifelong learning, the planet's demand for action and humanities longing for meaning. An organization that uses AI in the service of humanity.
Welcome to the Ministry for Meaning.
Introducing a radically new way of looking at employment
A progressive, fast-paced and innovative institution, The Ministry for Meaning works to ensure that as many people as possible find meaningful employment. Through a dynamic collaboration between man and machine, they experiment with new ideas and ways of working that can benefit a fluid job market. The ministry is for anyone looking for guidance in how to navigate uncertainty and constantly works to challenge outdated norms about what work is, what forms it can take and what it means to be "unemployed".
Ethical AI, the human factor and uncovering the non-linear career paths
At its best, our everyday work contributes to us as individuals as well as the society, but in 2023 many felt like being stuck in the wrong job. Instead, valuable competence got lost in rigid and inflexible systems unable to see and act beyond the obvious. By the use of AI1, combined with our profound human capacity for empathy, reflection and creativity, the Ministry for Meaning have now managed to unlock new ways of finding career paths.
A groundbreaking digital tool, founded on the Japanese concept of Ikigai2, matches the individual's values, previous experiences and passions, and combines it with the latest data on what society and the climate needs in order to thrive.
With access to vast data sets giving insights to the society at large and the planet, combined with the experience of the Meaning Curators, this pioneering tool are able to ethically match people's talents with the planet's needs and market conditions.
Through this Meaning Matcher, the idea of a career have changed, from a linear concept to a holistic and dynamic path that grows as you do, for the benefit of everyone.
1 To ensure unbiased and ethical data use, and as a forerunner
within AI for the public sector, the Ministry for Meaningplays a crucial
and active role in making sure Sweden’s ethical use of data.
2 Ikigai - Your life´s calling (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikigai)
How job centers became living hubs for the entire labor market
While digital tools and services undoubtedly will play a increasingly integral role in the society, physical meeting and human interaction is at least as important. Even so, in 2023, physical spaces within the public sector was often disused in favor of digital solutions.
With a game changing challenge of that norm, the Ministry for Meaning is combining intuitive digital services with physical hubs around the country. These beautifully designed spaces are manifestations of the radical new way of looking at work, meaning, and the relationship between individual and society.
With local presence, and by not only being concentrated to the biggest cities, the hubs are designed to effectively meet the specific challenges and opportunities that currently exist in the regions, but the effects have proved to have had both national and global impact.
For individuals, these hubs provide access to personal guidance and counselling. Meaning curators and licensed existential therapists offer inspiration for your next job or education, and you can receive tailored insights into different industries based on your profile. You can also join one of the ongoing collaborative projects in the dedicated Mission Spaces, working on the most important societal challenges of our time.
Equally important, the hubs also act as a living lab for the labor market, and are spaces for citizens, businesses, civil society, academia and the public sector, to meet and create a Sweden that in 2038 is at the social, planetary and economic forefront. It’s a natural place for thought leaders and key actors within sustainability and community development that, on regular basis, are being invited to talks and symposiums on future shifts.
From a slow paced institution to a progressive lab
To remain relevant in a world of constant change, and to be prepared to face the challenges that come with it, the Ministry for Meaning is exploratory and agile at its very core. The introduction of the Mobile Future Labs is a manifestation of that culture.
These mobile labs are temporary hubs, staffed with cross disciplinary teams, and are set up to invite citizens as well as businesses and the public sector to share their possibilities and challenges with the purpose of picking up on weak signals and exploring possible consequences of societal changes
These insights are then translated into concrete concepts to be tested on a small scale. The ones that prove successful are spread, while the ones that don't succeed are phased out.
This way of working have allowed the Ministry for Meaning to act more proactively than ever, and many of the successful progressive changes in recent years are a result of Mobile Future Labs.
MM2026:008 — The Societal swap
During recession, The Societal Swap gave businesses the opportunity to rent out parts of its staff through the Ministry for Meaning. Instead of conducting layoffs, the employees got to devote their time in service of their community.
MM2030:015 — The Dream Loan
The Dream Loan gave people the opportunity to get financial support to create their own dream jobs. During the years that the service was up and running, a number of new professions were created that are now common in many regions.
MM2030:014 — Activists in Residence
Through the Activists in Residence program, sustainability fighters were given the opportunity to, during working hours, challenge and inspire their organizations to take greater sustainability steps.
MM2029:011 — Planet as employer
The national program Planet as Employer gives more than 10,000 Swedes a year the chance to spend one day a week to pursue common missions across organizational and industry boundaries.
MM2028:010 — The Emergency Buses
As a response to a world in increased need of rapid changes, the Emergency Buses was initiated in 2028 . The bus is a quick launched mobile hub, and designed for fast-track education of people in professions that the current situation requires.
MM2026:007 — The 12-hour work week
Research shows that Swedish citizens can work no more than an average of 12 hours per week to keep Sweden's emissions within the planetary boundaries. In this project, 5,000 people in social care worked a 12 hour work week, and within one year, the results showed an increase in well-being, reduced sick leaves and fewer divorces than the average population.
About this project
The Ministry for Meaning is a speculative design project where SALLY, together with the Center for Digital Innovation at The Swedish Public Employment Service, explored what a new type of government institution might look like in Sweden in 2033.
For more information about the project, please reach out.
want to talk?