The debate over the impact of automation has been going on for several centuries, from the Luddites in 1811 to John Maynard Keynes’ prediction of technological unemployment in the 1930's, to Stephen Hawking's recent warnings over Artificial Intelligence. Most recently, the topic has been chosen as the primary theme for the 2016 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos and the Financial Times awarded their 2015 Business Book of the Year to Martin Ford’s ‘The Rise of the Robots’.
There seems little doubt that the pace of technology change has accelerated. Whereas it took on average 119 years for the spindle to diffuse outside of Europe, the Internet spread across the globe in only 7 years. Going forward, as argued in the Citi GPS Disruptive Innovations III report, the cost of innovation continues to fall as cheaper smartphones will help bring 4 billion more people online.