Photo: Getty

The internet has revolutionized the global economy, and leading figures in tech are now holding panels and forming commissions and issuing reports about how to ensure all this prosperity is shared. Hmm...

Melinda Gates advocates connecting more people to the internet as quickly as possible, and suggests that “Policymakers need to look at how do they use technology to connect people to markets.” Good public policy, perhaps, but not the most humanistic goal. The advance of technology can often put working people more and more helplessly at the mercy of the machines. That lesson was learned long ago. From the FT:

Although the commission painted a generally positive picture of how technology can benefit the world, it warned of the bad consequences of an unmanaged transition.

It noted that although new technologies did not necessarily destroy jobs in aggregate, they often disrupted patterns of employment, increasing social pressures and exclusion. During the Industrial Revolution, workers experienced a decline in living standards for almost 60 years while the income of the top 5 per cent more than doubled.

But that was in the less enlightened past! Certainly the democratizing force of the internet will prevent such woeful inequality from taking hold again...

Graphic: Via

Hm. But...

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