Is technological change fueling populism?


In recent years, technology has become a source of work-related uncertainty, rather than reducing it, as tech-driven industries undermine old ones. Concern about jobs and security has fueled the angrier politics of populism, Simon Caulkin writes for the FT:

Companies such as Uber and Deliveroo are disrupters, but they shake up industries rather than create new ones. They redistribute value rather than generate it. What people gain from efficiencies as consumers they lose as workers, which makes this kind of innovation a zero-sum game. Some at the forum saw in these companies the beginnings of a customer- rather than shareholder-focused economy. From evidence so far, this may not be much of an improvement for wider society.

Technology is not destiny, a White House report on automation and artificial intelligence reminded readers. “The direction of innovation is not a random shock to the economy but the product of decisions made by firms, governments, and individuals.” In other words, it can and should be shaped, to amplify the best effects and temper the worst.


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