Technological progress leads to better utility in the long-term but may be painful in the short-term.
Technological progress is good for consumers.
It allows people to enjoy goods that are otherwise non-existent. Now, we can produce 40x more output per worker as compared to the pre-industrialised era of the 1750s.
Technological progress also has positive impact to labour.
From the past industrial revolution, mechanisation has replaced child labourers with machines. New technology creates better jobs with better working conditions.
But automation comes with creative destruction in employment, sometimes lasting decades.
Examples of resistance in history are plenty. Much of the public commentary focuses on the Luddites but there was resistance across Europe as well.
Jobs of the future that are least vulnerable require creativity and personal connection.
Which jobs are most at risk? Production, transportation, retail and construction are most vulnerable.
Even fashion models are exposed to automation. Dior recently used a computer-generated model for their latest ads.
Jobs that require creativity, perception and social intelligence are harder to replace.
The creation of autonomous vehicles would not just replace drivers – it would require a new ecosystem. Roads, infrastructure and new places of work must be re-imagined. People cannot imagine future demands yet, but future jobs that are guaranteed to be in demand will require personal touch.
Technological innovation is deeply unnatural.
Ultimately, in our modern society, technological progress only happens if people allow for it.
The Industrial Revolution happened in Britain in part because the British government sided with the merchants and the industrialists amidst growing international competition for trade and commerce.
But we cannot take technological progress for granted.
Policy makers need to use the Collective Brain to come up with solutions that ensure inclusive gains in the short-run and a smooth transition to the next phase of tech adoption.