We are an international research programme dedicated to understanding the prospects for human augmentation, social inclusion and shared prosperity in the fourth industrial revolution.

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Education, technology and the future of work in the fourth industrial revolution

Phillip Brown

In Working Paper 2, Prof Phillip Brown asks what, if anything, is significant or ‘revolutionary’ about the fourth industrial revolution? The working paper outlines different interpretations of the role of digital technologies in (re)shaping the education-work relationship. Two contrasting theories of ‘labour scarcity’ and ‘job scarcity’ are presented. Labour scarcity assumes that digital innovation in the fourth industrial revolution will create more and better jobs than it destroys. The primary policy issue being a (mis)alignment in a race between education and technology. Job scarcity, on the other hand, puts forth that the fundamental challenge in the fourth industrial revolution is a transformation of the division of labour under market capitalism towards greater routinisation of knowledge work and deskilling. The lens we use will determine the societal actions we take to prepare for the future, suggesting the need to review some of the key assumptions informing public policy in both Western and Asian countries.

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