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Commentary: The potential impact of the "fourth industrial revolution" on inequality, security, freedom of expression

Author: Nicholas Davis, World Economic Forum, Published on: 19 January 2016

"What is the fourth industrial revolution?", 19 Jan 2016

…[W]e are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, a new era that builds and extends the impact of digitization in new and unanticipated ways…[T]here are three big areas of concern:…

1. Inequality

The richest 1% of the population now owns half of all household wealth…[G]lobally connected digital platforms tend to grant outsized rewards to a small number of star products and services…Perhaps the most discussed driver of inequality is the potential for the Fourth Industrial Revolution to increase unemployment…Shifts in employment and skills may also increase gender inequality…

2. Security

Increasing inequality…creates security concerns for both citizens and states…[A] hyper-connected world, when combined with rising inequality, could lead to…social unrest…

3. Identity, voice and community

…Already, digital media is increasingly…connecting people to individuals and groups in new ways…[C]ontroversial or anti-establishment views can be further undermined by states and other actors willing to use new technologies and platforms to restrict speech and harass citizens…

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