Power to the many

The previous era brought prosperity to many. Now prosperity belongs to the few

The startup movement has arguably led to a New Industrial revolution with many new companies building on new technologies like machine learning. This revolution promises spectacular returns for everyone and increased standards of living and everyone is buying into the sell story.

And yet, today we exist in a world where (some) successful startups play a significant role in exacerbating current inequalities and in some cases, threatening to create new ones via automation. The backlash is palpable. What is happening?

I would argue that we have failed to think things through; that we have been all too eager to praise disruption without addressing the question of its most hapless victims: the common men and women. We failing to ensure equitable access to continuous education for all people when we introduce new shocks like automation. We tout basic income as a solution but honestly, do we know for sure if that will be enough? What if it isn’t? Will we condemn people to a life of perpetual stagnation? People want to work and prosper. Your startup is ruining their livelihood. So now what?

Power to the people must be ensured. If the “inclusive society” movement can lead to institutions (private or public) that can ensure that the common people will be empowered and able to meaningfully upgrade their skillsets or livelihood and find themselves again in this new world we’re building, then there is hope for the New Industrial revolution. Otherwise, all bets are off and the revolution will become a victim of its own success.

Power to the few Ubers, Amazons and AliBaBas of the world at the expense of people will be the death of all of us.