"It is partly just a matter of history repeating itself. In the early part of the Industrial Revolution the rewards of increasing productivity went disproportionately to capital; later on, labour reaped most of the benefits. The pattern today is similar. The prosperity unleashed by the digital revolution has gone overwhelmingly to the owners of capital and the highest-skilled workers. Over the past three decades, labour’s share of output has shrunk globally from 64% to 59%. Meanwhile, the share of income going to the top 1% in America has risen from around 9% in the 1970s to 22% today. Unemployment is at alarming levels in much of the rich world, and not just for cyclical reasons. In 2000, 65% of working-age Americans were in work; since then the proportion has fallen, during good years as well as bad, to the current level of 59%.
Worse, it seems likely that this wave of technological disruption to
the job market has only just started. From driverless cars to clever
household gadgets (see article),
innovations that already exist could destroy swathes of jobs that have
hitherto been untouched. The public sector is one obvious target: it has
proved singularly resistant to tech-driven reinvention. But the step
change in what computers can do will have a powerful effect on
middle-class jobs in the private sector too."
It's going to be hard to guess what jobs will be needed in the future. Society needs to gear up ahead of time to train people for those jobs, but what will those jobs be? A tricky dilemma.