LONDON – “By 2020, the labor reduction effect of digitization will cause social unrest and a quest for new economic models in several mature economies.” This dire warning from IT analyst Gartner has good pedigree: John Maynard Keynes coined the term “technological unemployment” in 1930 to describe labor-saving innovation outpacing the ability to find new things for people to do.
In the 1970s, the lack of work in the imminent future was regarded as a major challenge — how would people survive permanent leisure? Go back two centuries and even in the midst of serfdom, Voltaire offered an answer: “Work saves us from three great evils: boredom, vice and need.” So is it serious this time? Are we on the brink of Industrial Revolution 3.0?
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