We are at the beginning of a great information and communications revolution. Already the mobile phone has become almost ubiquitous, with seven out of 10 of the world’s poorest people owning one. The internet now reaches more than 3-billion people. Routine work is increasingly open to automation. And powerful new capacities for mass data analysis promise to transform all knowledge-based social and economic activity. The full implications of such rapid technological changes are impossible to predict. Human history has seen the relentless replacement of animal and then human labour by machines. The latest great waves of displacement saw agricultural labour decimated, and then manufacturing employment supplanted by service industries. As in previous centuries, the most pervasive fears and hopes to which today’s new technologies have given rise concern their ramifications for employment. One key difference today is that technology is starting to displace professionals and highly educate...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.