The Onrushing Wave

There’s a long ar­ti­cle in this week’s The Economist:

The on­rush­ing wave

dis­cussing the effect of chang­ing tech­nol­ogy upon the amount of em­ploy­ment available in differ­ent sec­tors of the econ­omy.

Sam­ple para­graph from it:

The case for a highly dis­rup­tive pe­riod of eco­nomic growth is made by Erik Bryn­jolfs­son and An­drew McAfee, pro­fes­sors at MIT, in “The Se­cond Ma­chine Age”, a book to be pub­lished later this month. Like the first great era of in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion, they ar­gue, it should de­liver enor­mous benefits—but not with­out a pe­riod of di­s­ori­ent­ing and un­com­fortable change. Their ar­gu­ment rests on an un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated as­pect of the ex­po­nen­tial growth in chip pro­cess­ing speed, mem­ory ca­pac­ity and other com­puter met­rics: that the amount of progress com­put­ers will make in the next few years is always equal to the progress they have made since the very be­gin­ning. Mr Bryn­jolfs­son and Mr McAfee reckon that the main bot­tle­neck on in­no­va­tion is the time it takes so­ciety to sort through the many com­bi­na­tions and per­mu­ta­tions of new tech­nolo­gies and busi­ness mod­els.

(There’s a sum­mary on­line of their pre­vi­ous book: Race Against The Ma­chine: How the Digi­tal Revolu­tion is Ac­cel­er­at­ing In­no­va­tion, Driv­ing Pro­duc­tivity, and Ir­re­versibly Trans­form­ing Em­ploy­ment and the Econ­omy)

What do peo­ple think are so­ciety’s prac­ti­cal op­tions for cop­ing with this change?