The Nine Disruptions – Why We Need a New Social Contract for the Digital Economy
This white paper, brought to you by the Brightline Initiative and the Blockchain Research Institute, describes nine disruptions to our global economy and society, driven by the technological explosion of the fourth industrial revolution, the globalization of the factors of production, the demographic paradoxes of skilled labor shortages and high youth unemployment, and the impact of climate change on the health and well-being of life on this planet.
Idea in Brief
Brexit and Donald Trump were a one-two punch, hitting the world in the face. People everywhere are “mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.” They have become vulnerable to populism, xenophobia, and scapegoating others for their circumstances or even the consequences of their own decisions.
Centrist parties are in rapid decline and extremist, right-wing parties from Hungary and Poland to France and Germany are on the rise. In other countries, particularly in southern Europe where memories of fascism and dictatorship are still vivid, the left is ascendant.
The unfolding story is one of growing discontent with the deepening economic crisis and the establishment that created it with impunity. As the digital revolution unfolds, it is driving profound changes in the global economy, labor markets, old institutions, and society as a whole.
Technology is enabling spectacular innovation and unprecedented wealth creation. At the same time, growing social inequality, the decline of the middle class, and pernicious unemployment and underemployment are fueling unrest. Networks enable outsourcing, offshoring, and the globalization of labor markets.
Government architectures and policies have not evolved. There is a fiscal crisis, and threats to the Industrial Age social safety net loom everywhere. Powerful forces have captured data, the new asset class. Climate change is threatening our biosphere with huge displacement and other disruptions just beginning to be felt.
Within the Fourth Industrial Revolution, one centered on machine learning, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and even biotechnology, many core functions of knowledge work are in jeopardy.
Industrial Age institutions for solving global problems—those based on the Bretton Woods model of global institutions—have stalled. The upshot is that the social contract—the agreements, laws, and behaviors that people, companies, civil society, and their governments adhere to by consensus—no longer serves us well.