Since my last post, I’ve had the privilege of attending two really interesting conferences here in Houston. In the first one, the “Immersive Technology Conference,” I gave a talk on “Virtual Reality and the Future of Work,” my first public talk on some of the topics I’ve discussed on this blog. More recently, I attended “De Lange Conference X” at Rice University on the topic of “Humans, Machines and the Future of Work.” At both of these conferences, I discussed the concept of “Virtual Public Jobs Programs”  with several people, and got some great feedback about the idea in response.
During one such conversation at the De Lange conference, I was encouraged to look into “citizen science,” a term that was new to me.  The Oxford Dictionaries website defines citizen science as :
The collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists.
This definition implies that Virtual Public Jobs Programs, as I’ve proposed them on this blog , would effectively be a form of citizen science that focuses on virtual worlds rather than the natural world. In addition to this, the public sector would pay Virtual Public Jobs Program participants for their work, thus using citizen science as a job creation tool.  In this post I will briefly discuss how universities can help to facilitate this process.