However, Gore argues that there is reason to believe that a net increase in jobs will not in fact materialize this time around. This proves to be the case because, on all previous occasions, the jobs that were lost were replaced and then some by jobs that required workers to build, operate and maintain the new technologies that were created.
This time around, though, our machines are becoming so sophisticated that they are capable of performing the bulk of these tasks on their own.
In other words, there is a qualitative change in the new technologies that we are seeing, in that they are increasingly becoming capable of replacing the unique human ability to think loc. A tell-tale sign of this is the fact that machines are now not only replacing labor jobs, but service jobs as well: jobs that previously required human intelligence. We have already seen machines replace tellers and clerks of all kinds in banks, grocery stores, airlines, delivery services etc.
And there is every reason to believe that this process will only continue, and even accelerate especially as artificial intelligence technology continues to advance [loc. Indeed, machines are now showing themselves capable of churning out legal research documents which is having an impact on employment in the legal profession [loc. Of course, the push towards automation is producing a net increase of jobs in some industries at least in the short-term loc.
A good case in point here is the financial industry.
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A significant driver behind this change has been the massive proliferation of financial derivatives constructed by new computer programs and algorithms loc. In addition to the creation of financial derivatives, computers and their algorithms now largely dominate the world of financial trading. By , in Europe as well as the U. The need for speed in this new world of computer trading and the amount of industry it is spawning is truly astonishing. The value of the increase in speed 3 miliseconds has made the cable well worth the investment, and additional lengths of it are now being sold to other projects at premium prices loc.
Unfortunately, the digitization of the financial industry is also unleashing a whole new set of problems. For one, a system built on computerized trades which is itself based on complex algorithms is capable of yielding anomalous interactions that can lead to wild volatility in the markets loc. This type of phenomenon has in fact already occurred.
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It was later discovered that an anomalous interaction in the system caused a run-away effect that led to the Flash Crash loc. While this event did not lead to a complete disaster, there is no guaranteeing that we may be so lucky in the future.
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However, opposition by the financial industry has helped ensure that no such measures have as yet been introduced loc. Given that the financial industry is becoming ever-more dominated by computers and their algorithms with little prospect of new regulation , Gore warns that we can expect many more such threatening events in the future loc.
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In any event, the main point here is to show that automation has led to an increase in employment in at least some industries. Positive though these developments may be, however, the fact remains that the overall effect of the current wave of automation has led to a net loss in jobs loc. In other words, the extra wealth that is being created at the top is not trickling down to those underneath loc. Thus there is a growing gap between the rich and the poor, and an overall decline in the middle-class in the developed world loc. One effect of this is that the overall demand for goods is beginning to decrease, and this is having a negative impact on the economy as whole loc.
For Gore, the solution is clear: the extra wealth that is being concentrated at the top at the expense of the middle class must be redistributed into public services. Of course, the wealthy elite are not terribly impressed by the prospect of their riches being redistributed; and, for Gore, this is the major force standing in the way of the implementation of such policies. Incidentally, Gore believes that the redistribution solution will also eventually be necessary in the developing world; for though the middle-class is expected to grow there in the foreseeable future, Gore maintains that the advance of robosourcing will ultimately threaten middle-class employment there as well loc.
While the middle-class is being threatened, the rise of the global economy has allowed corporations to become increasingly wealthy. Compounding the issue is that in many Western democracies and particularly the United States corporations are able to gain a significant amount of influence due to the fact that politicians there depend on the donations of these corporations to fund their political campaigns loc. In the U. Because candidates are dependent on corporate funding to be able to afford these costs, they become beholden to the particular interests of the corporations that are funding them loc.
In addition to this, corporations largely own the media including the most influential medium, television loc. For Gore, the end result is that the interests of private citizens are increasingly being overwhelmed by the particular interests of corporations.
Now, in the recent past, America has occupied a very important role on the world stage. However, with the American government increasingly influenced by corporate interests, it is beginning to pull away from its important role on the world stage loc. This at a time when the world can ill afford to lose its most important leader. In the absence of strong U. At the same time as the U. The biggest threat here, of course, comes from China, which is expected to surpass the United States as the largest economy in the world this decade loc.
The good news, according to Gore, is that virtually all of the negative effects discussed above can be mitigated, if not reversed entirely, if the democratic governments of the world and especially the United States only had the fortitude to put corporations in their place, and limit their ability to influence public policies and operations.
Fortunately, the rise of the internet is providing a forum wherein reform movements can begin and flourish; and Gore is therefore very hopeful that the Internet will prove to be a great force for positive change loc. Nevertheless, while the Internet is loaded with positive potential, it is also fraught with potential dangers. It is to the potential of the Internet both positive and perilous that we will turn to next.
The rise of the internet has led to a massive shift in how we live our lives. In addition to making possible the global economy mentioned above, the Internet has also given us access to an exponentially expanding universe of information, as well as the ability to connect to virtually anyone on the planet at any moment. While the majority of people in the world are still without access to the Internet, this is changing, and fast. With Internet connectivity quickly spreading to every corner of the planet, and new computers and smart phones cropping up that are cheaper than ever, it is but a short matter of time before virtually everyone in the world will be connected loc.
And this connectedness does not end with human actors. Indeed, our man-made systems such as our industrial systems, economic systems, and infrastructural systems etc. This information is then being analyzed by computer algorithms to glean insights about the world around us, and how to make this world a better, safer, more efficient place loc.
Even Internet communications can be analyzed to unearth important information and trends loc. Geological Survey has established a Twitter Earthquake Detector to gather information on the impact and location of shaking events more quickly, particularly in populated areas with few seismic instruments. And in , U.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched the Global Pulse program to analyze digital communications in order to detect and understand economic and social shocks more quickly. The pattern with which people add money to their mobile phone accounts is an early warning of job loss.
Online food prices can be surveyed to help predict price spikes and food shortages. In many ways, Gore draws a connection between the rise of the Internet and the Print Revolution that occurred in Europe in the 15 th century loc. Unfortunately, many parts of the world were kept largely insulated from the effects of the Print Revolution, and it is mainly these parts of the world that have remained under autocratic governments to this day loc.
With the current global rise of the Internet, however, the Internet Revolution has the potential to do for rest of the world what the Print Revolution did for Europe and the rest of the West back in the 15 th century. Still, as many have observed, the recent Internet-enabled resistance movements have largely been unsuccessful at least to this point. Nevertheless, there is hope that these movements may yet be reenergized, and triumph in the end loc. Examples such as these are a stark reminder than any new technology—no matter how much potential it has for instigating change—can be used for both good and ill loc.
Aside from helping to overthrow dictatorial governments, Gore is also hopeful that the Internet may help reform democracy in countries where it is already firmly established.
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In the United States, much of this is the result of the fact that political candidates rely on corporations to fund their uber-expensive electoral campaigns, and then end up becoming beholden to these corporations and their interests loc. As Gore points out, though, much of the expense of these political campaigns is driven by the high price of advertising on television, which remains the dominant form of media loc.
By contrast, it is far less expensive to reach people over the internet. As the Internet comes to replace television as the main form of media, then, it will become far easier for political candidates to reach people without the exorbitant expenses now required. This should shift some of the power away from corporations, for it will no longer be necessary for political candidates to solicit their funds in order to reach the people.