Automation is dramatically reshaping the workforce, but we’ve barely begun to grapple with how it will reshape society
By Ryan Avent | POLITICO
For those of us who have lived in relatively placid times, it is hard to believe that American politics could become more chaotic than it is today. But far beyond allegations of criminal acts in the executive branch, the unending reality-show trash talk of the president on his Twitter feed or even nuclear brinkmanship, something else will push us into a new and uncertain era of politics, likely far stranger and possibly more dangerous than anything in memory.
The force is technology. It’s easy to think we’re living through a disruptive period now, but we’re only scratching the surface of what true technological change can do to a society. The industrialization of the 19th century reoriented human life on a vast scale, shifting production radically from villages and farms toward huge centralized factories powered by coal and steam. And politics had to adapt just as radically as humans figured out how to make industrial societies work. Institutions shaped around village life strained and broke under the pressures of the millions of people who moved to work in the new factories.