The digital age has dramatically shifted how industries of all kinds operate, disrupting traditional ways of working and paving the way for new ones. This disruption, importantly, does not favour all. Technology has already altered the structure of the job market. With a decline in demand for routine jobs, there has been a substantial hollowing out of middle-income jobs, splintering the composition of jobs into high-skill high-pay and low-skill low-pay brackets. In part, this reflects a large increase in the complexity and skill requirements necessary for working in industries dependent on technology, which are swelling with time. This inequity is not only of concern for politicians; the dispersion of human capital in the workforce will be a key factor of rumination for businesses reliant on technology.
Moreover, companies that fail to adjust to this new environment will lose customers or go out of business entirely. This has the potential both to propel fresh and innovative businesses to the top of industry or, alternatively, to thrust the concentration of market power into the hands of a few goliaths.
Thus far, the convenience of online shopping has led to the “death of the high street”, travel agents have found themselves out of work as the internet significantly reduces the need for a middleman, and traditional publishers have had to engage with online tools in order to avoid becoming obsolete. But while some industries such as retail, entertainment or transport have undergone a deep transformation over the last ten years, others are only now beginning to realise the potential of the internet. In part, this is simply a lagged reaction by some of the more sleepy industries in the economy. However, more intriguingly, the momentum of fledgling artificial intelligence and computation capabilities, as well as data accessibility, are completely reorienting business models.
This section looks into the healthcare and policing industries and their deepening ties with information technologies. As we shall see, the advancements in technology are not only remoulding the fabric of industry, but raise some serious ethical questions, which are fast becoming practical considerations. How much do we trust our algorithms? Is our privacy a worthy sacrifice for wellbeing betterments?