Divergence II

The 21st century is looking like a nightmare for egalitarians, according to UBS. The bank anticipates an “automation and connectivity” explosion on a scale amounting to a fourth industrial revolution, widening gaps within and between nations:

These changes will have very different effects on nations, businesses and individuals. Automation will continue to put downward pressure on the wages of the low skilled and is starting to impinge on the employment prospects of middle skilled workers. By contrast the potential returns to highly skilled and more adaptable workers are increasing. Among corporations, a wide range of traditional businesses – especially those that act as intermediaries – can be expected to suffer. Many labor-intensive firms should be able to boost profit margins as they substitute costly workers for cheaper robots or intelligent software. And a range of entirely new companies and sectors will spring into existence. For nations, the largest gains from the Fourth Industrial Revolution are likely to be captured by those with the most flexible economies, adding a further incentive for governments to trim red tape and barriers to business.

The default outcome benefits the capitalism-competent. The Guardian is among those concerned.

5 thoughts on “Divergence II

  1. I’m always tickled to return to Kurt Vonnegut’s first fable: Player Piano where all the working men and women of the world have already been replaced by machines… “During the war, in hundreds of Iliums over America, managers and engineers learned to get along without their men and women…” (1952)

    It’s as if in the assembly line systems that won out in WWII the beginning of this whole takeover became not only a possibility, but a probability…

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