Mass adoption of the Internet introduced the Third Industrial Revolution, which completely upended the ways in which we live and work. Now, experts are starting to weigh in on the Fourth Industrial Revolution - the rise of digital lifestyles and the new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies, business and even the human body.
Technology-driven unemployment is no longer just an ailment of low-income households. No job is safe. There are now AI lawyers, AI accountants, and AI financial advisors. Even AI hedge fund managers. So much money is now being spent on technology that Gartner estimates many companies spend more on marketing technology than they do on actual marketing.
Politicians cannot ignore their voters to this extent and cannot embrace advantages of this. It is the mass unemployment issue that will cause most concern to politician's short-lived careers. Donald Trump cannot promise the Rustbelt States that voted for him that he would bring back jobs from foreign countries and replace these unskilled workers' jobs with machines.
Craig, you made my day. Actually Craig, scrap that. You made my week. You reminded me that regardless of the dire political and economic states of my two residences (London and North Carolina), there are still some incredible people out there. You may not have written an acclaimed novel on the collapse of the Soviet Union or performed Chopin blindfolded but you made me and my mum smile a lot.
All big technology changes create new opportunities, and create new doors that you never knew existed. You just have to accept that and be open to it. Change, no matter how unsettling, can be turned round to your advantage and can be used to create new businesses that employ new workers, giving them hope for the future.
Yes the world is changing fast. It's obvious that digital innovation operates on a more accelerated timetable than the time it takes to change laws and regulations. But is that a good enough reason to place technologists and innovators in the driving seat? What kind of a society will they create? What kind of politics will 'disruptive innovations' introduce?
So, the Uber ruling is a very good thing indeed - but you won't be surprised to hear a Trade Union activist say this. What is more interesting, and more troubling for me, is the realisation that even if the coming challenges to this ruling are unsuccessful, the "gig economy" as an entity isn't about to disappear
Today, drivers won a pivotal victory in a case taken by my union, GMB against Uber that proved that they really are employees and not "partners" as the company always says... Up till now, Uber drivers have not been guaranteed a minimum wage - and as GMB, has shown, not every driver always makes the legal minimum. We're also not entitled to holiday pay and as a result, any time off means a loss of earnings, which can mean a lot when you have bills to pay. When Uber comes in and takes advantage of all the opportunities they have in Britain, they should also respect the law of the land and we have shown that today.