– Every era, every century, every generation has its massive technological disruption
– Taxi drivers being “disrupted” by technology of Uber
– History shows how “middle men” frequently made redundant
– Skill set of many professionals today can be replicated by machines and technology
– Technology may make lawyers, accountants, architects and doctors redundant
– We risk “cannabalising ourselves” with internet and emerging technologies
Once the Portuguese had opened up the passage to India via the Atlantic, the old Silk Roads, the commercial superhighways of the medieval ages from China to Istanbul, were gradually downgraded in global commerce. Economically, the Earth shifted on its axis from Asia to the Atlantic. This was the great disruption.
It took a while, but the commercial earthquake triggered by the Portuguese heading around Africa in 1497 and sailing triumphantly into the port of Calcutta in India is impossible to understate. So much changed, from slavery to mass manufacturing, from the conversion of England’s peasants to proletarian workers and, more traumatically, the mass expropriation of native lands, stemmed from the commercial imperative to trade as much stuff as possible in as many countries as possible.
Remember the mass layoffs of 2008-2009? The US economy shed millions of jobs quickly and relentlessly, as companies died and the rest fought for survival.
Then the Fed and the US government flooded the banks and the corporate sector with bailouts and handouts. With those giga-tons of liquidity sloshing around, as well as taking on massive amounts of new cheap debt, companies were able to finance their working capital needs, hire workers back, and even buy-back their shares en mass to make themselves look deceptively profitable. The nightmare of 2008 soon became a golden era of ‘recovery’.
Well, 2016 is showing us that that era is over. And as stock prices cease to rise, and in fact fall within many industries, layoffs are beginning to make a return as companies jettison costs in attempt to reduce losses. Continue reading