Work in the Digital Age: Challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

In recent years, an idea has spread that we are in a fourth industrial revolution, more transformative than any change in human history, that will, among other negative effects, lead to massive job losses and unemployment. However, as Rob Atkinson writes in an essay for the “Work in the Digital Age” project, there is no reason to believe this coming technology wave will be any different in pace and magnitude than past waves. This next wave of innovation will be modest, but progressive, particularly by enabling an uptick in productivity that, with the right policies, will lift incomes for workers around the world. While the next wave of innovation will not be unprecedented, there still could be negative impacts that policymakers need to prepare for and seek to mitigate. Policymakers should ignore techno-Cassandras and instead embrace this next wave of innovation, while at the same time ensuring that workers are well equipped to prosper from it.