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The Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics and The Future Work

In an era marked by inexorable advances in artificial and remote intelligence (RI) generated by giant tech companies, perceiving the accompanied threats on global economy’s future is becoming indispensable. Big tech’s data practices remain the most widely publicized and the main on-going concern for the EU – the global tech regulator. Nevertheless, digital technology’s more far-reaching implications on the future of work is not spotlighted. Not only global regulators and governments, but also job market players – white collars and companies – need to foresee the threats and opportunities awaited in the future of work in order to adequately prepare for it. In his timely and eye-opening book “The Globotics Upheaval” (2019), a sequel to his earlier book “The New Convergence” (2016), Richard Baldwin – a professor of International Economics and an expert in the field of globalization and trade – draws a speculative picture of this consequential pain and gain package the labour market will be facing due to the parallel forces of globalization and robotics (which he named “globotics”). He bases his arguments on the comparison of this transformation (generally known as the fourth industrial revolution) with earlier waves of technology induced economic transformations since the 1800s as well as on recent statistics and observations in the workplace. His main concern is that the size and timing of the Globotics transformation is so different from earlier ones that people will probably underestimate its speed of progress and consequently will be poorly prepared for its implications. The reason is that not only globalization and automation happen simultaneously for the first time, but also that it is concentrated on the services sector where the majority of the work force is employed.

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