Weekend Roundup: 5 Million Jobs Lost to Robots and Inequality Too Vast to Last

As global elites gathered in Davos this week, the World Economic Forum released a daunting survey that estimates that 5 million jobs will be lost across the world in coming years to robotic automation. Oxfam also reported this week that 62 ultra-rich individuals held as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people on the planet — inequality too vast to last.

While globalization and rapid technological advance empower some with unprecedented possibilities, they dispossess others, causing growing gaps in power and wealth that lead in turn to fear, resentment and violence. In this one world a race is on between the two consequences of change. As Jo Confino writes from Davos, “rapid advances in technology are pulling the world in opposite directions.”

The fearful and fearsome reaction against growing inequality, social dislocation and loss of identity in the midst of vast wealth creation, unprecedented mobility and ubiquitous connectivity is a mutiny, really, against globalization. It could spell the demise of the worldwide march in one direction we’ve seen in recent decades. Indian novelist Rana Dasgupta links economic exclusion to the resurgence of radicalism: “Many people across the world are falling out of our global economic system, which does not need them. The spread of radical ideologies … is also about this simple fact.”

Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of the cloud computing company, Salesforce, makes the case for businesses to engage as platforms for positive change. He cites WEF’s Klaus Schwab: “Unless public- and private-sector leaders assure citizens that they are executing credible strategies to improve people’s’ lives, social unrest, mass migration, and violent extremism could intensify, thus creating risks for countries at all stages of development.” Artificial intelligence researcher Dileep George embraces the —> Read More