Concerns about the impact of technology on jobs may seem to be a relatively modern problem. But as far back as 1589, the inventor William Lee applied to Queen Elizabeth I for a patent on a new type of knitting machine that could produce far higher quality stockings than weavers could by hand. The Queen denied him his patent, saying "consider thou what the invention could do to my poor subjects. It would assuredly bring them ruin by depriving them of employment, thus making them beggars". In spite of Mr Lee's setback, over the next three centuries the UK became the world leader in textile manufacturing.
The same debate is rolling on in the second Elizabethan age. How technology impacts our jobs is 'front of mind' for businesses, policymakers, the media and the general public. This will no doubt continue long into the future.