miércoles, 5 de noviembre de 2014

How to make sustainable the #Digital Economy

Let´s than a decade ago, in 2006-2008, the whole humankind (at least in the advanced world) looked with optimism the impact that Internet was having in the society and the new perspectives that it opened to improve the well-being of the world. The emphasis was then in first steps of the new digital economy that was taken by then. According with the experts, the mass and highly decentralized collaboration, developed in open networks outside the world of the established and big organizations, opened a whole world of opportunities to those who were brave enough to take the risk. Books as "Wikinomics" or "Here comes everybody" are the mirror of the spirit of that era. 

The landscape has changed in a radical manner. There is a mistrust floating in the air towards technology. The great recession and other events has taken its toll and no remains of the past optimism are in the most successful books written by analysts of the digitalisation and its impact. A gloomy world of the future jumps to our imagination from the pages of books like "The race against the machine" or "The second machine age" written by McAffe and Brynjolfsson. You can make an optimistic read of this boos, as it is my case, but I understand the fears towards digitalisation from many people.

The main concern of the people is related with its job post. Although it could not be clearly identified which part of the present decline in employment is cause of digitalisation and which part is cause of the crisis, there is an extended fear that the further we advance in the digital era the less opportunities for finding a work in certain areas will be available. A positive answer to the question "Will a robot take your job?" is spurred by studies threatening with a massive lost of jobs due to automatisation (up to 54% of existing jobs in EU, for instance) and, more important, by the fact no net increase of job post was experienced in the last decade in some countries (like the USA). And the digital economy will not be sustanaible in this situation.

Assuming the pessimistic side of the forecast above, the "technological unemployment" for human beings that was predicted by Keynes is round the corner. Although it is an extreme scenario, we should think about what happened to other species who suffered before the "technological unemployment". Taking the case of the horses that were made redundant by the industrial revolution, its population has decreased from 26 million to 3 million in the last century . In order to draw away from this extreme scenarios and moving towards the more attractive scenario described by Rifkin in "The end of work" is implementing a social wage. 

Obviously the question is where to look for funds for implementing the social wage. Few answers are for that. In my opinion, although utopical unless we have a big consensus in the advanced countries, the only serious answer has been given by Piketty: A global and progressive tax on capital. And this should not surprise us, the answer to how to make socially sustainable the digital economy could only come from the one who has studied the capital and economy in the 21st century. Because the 21st century is the digital century.

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