Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, had a great line in his Davos speech last week: "The pace of change has never been this fast, and yet it will never be this slow again." For me, that was the key message of the World Economic Forum. The headlines may have talked about President Donald Trump’s "America first" speech, but the back story was the fragility of nation states in a time of technological change. The topic of "the digital economy and society" was the most popular this year at the WEF in terms of the number of sessions and social media buzz — and no wonder. The dirty secret of Davos is that the much-lauded "Fourth Industrial Revolution" — shorthand for the rise of ubiquitous automation, big data and artificial intelligence — is making most people less, not more, secure, at least in the short term. The ability of a range of companies — in insurance, healthcare, retail and consumer goods — to personalise almost every kind of product and service based on data streams is n...

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