Albeit the World Bank is stating that the looming robot age is an opportunity and not a threat, The Guardian argues that not only will robots change everything forever but also widen the gap between rich and poor.
The criticism the report has received from trade unions and anti-poverty campaigners is well merited, not just for its ideological obsession with deregulation but for its lack of historical awareness. Previous waves of technological change caused such deep social tensions that policymakers were forced to intervene. That meant more regulation, not less.
In the 19th century, the development of trade unions, the extension of the franchise, the involvement of the state in education and pressure for higher welfare spending were all attempts to inject equality into the system. Despite what the World Development Report says, without a similar attempt to embed technological change in a political framework that shares the benefits of robot-driven growth, there is the potential for serious trouble ahead.
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