The digital revolution is rapidly changing the composition of the workforce across economies. In particular, a confluence of improvements in a wide range of related technological areas, including sensors, machine learning, automation and robotics, is making technology more labor-saving and potentially less job-creating. Throughout history, the arrival of revolutionary technologies—such as the railroad, the automobile, and the telephone—have created vast employment opportunities and delivered transformative improvements in living standards. However, these innovations also destroyed large numbers of existing jobs, necessitating extensive periods of retraining and adaptation. Indeed, a 2015 Harvard Business Review article noted that over the last 200 years technological change has often been associated with stagnant wages and rising inequality, at least for a time.
Frey, C. & Rahbari, E. (2016). 'Do labor-saving technologies spell the death of jobs in the developing world?'. Prepared for the 2016 Brookings Blum Roundtable.