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About this book

Technological dominance is shifting the balance of global economic stability. This is the central premise behind the latest book from Lorenzi and Berrebi who view the rise of artificial intelligence, robotics, use of private data, and genetic transformation, among other developments, culminating in new economic conditions that require a fresh sense of governance in order for society to sustain order. Whilst progress in technology provides numerous opportunities and hope, is the desire to pursue these ambitions in innovation putting our society at risk of being undermined and, ultimately, governed by technology firms? How will these changes affect economic outlooks in an age of growing inequality and aging populations? What role do politicians serve in facilitating these changes? The decline of a labour force, the use of Big Data and increased speeds of communication are but three examples that the authors address in their quest to understand where the limits should lie between progress and disruption for the future of society.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction: The New Human Condition

Abstract
The world is perplexed: a little lost, even. It is waking up to the fact that our emergence from the crisis does not in any way imply a return to the extraordinary growth of the early 2000s. We have reached a point today where the rational world is retreating and extremism and populism are rising, where the technological dream appears to be the only dream of a better world. We will examine the risks our societies are taking, with their naïve and simplistic view of a technological Eden: an Eden where politicians make way for the new prophets of technology, who are designing our world to suit themselves.
Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, Mickaël Berrebi

Chapter 2. A Major Stagnation, But Not a Secular One

Abstract
What a strange expression “secular stagnation” is! It is a reaction against the naïve outlook of our Western societies, which refuse to contemplate any other scenario than the politically correct one, termed “progress”. As ever, the truth actually lies between two visions: one naïve, the other deathly. The object of the following chapter is to establish how politicians must strive for a realistic improvement in our living standards. This vast issue is affected negatively and positively by digital, environmental and demographic changes, and by breakthroughs in the fields of energy, genetics, information technology and astrophysics. These factors also lead us to reflect on possible new forms of growth.
Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, Mickaël Berrebi

Chapter 3. The High Tech Eden

Abstract
We will take four so-called disruptive technologies, which represent profound changes in the value systems we live by and most importantly, give rise to insane prophetic statements about how the world will be. We want to use these examples to demonstrate the important nature of these innovations and the risks posed by the hazardous and false predictions they can elicit. None of these technologies alone can explain the terrific dilemma confronting us today, but each of them illustrates the economic and philosophical arguments that we must tackle. The four values which we believe are fundamental to the coherence, and acceptability of our democratic societies will be transformed by the arrival of these four technologies. Their sole purpose here is to illustrate the profound upheaval our societies will be confronted with in the next twenty years. Technology is never neutral.
Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, Mickaël Berrebi

Chapter 4. A Shattered Labour Market

Abstract
The relationship between technological progress and employment has been a classic issue of economics debate for more than two centuries. But while it might appear to be a rather academic question for some, its real stakeholders experience it as a tragedy. This is an eternal debate with no clear-cut answers, but with some obvious facts: in the short term, more jobs have been destroyed than created, and there is no certainty at all about what will happen in the future. Today’s thinkers limit themselves to discussing the digital revolution, which represents only one of the main technological trends of the twenty-first century, neglecting what is going to happen in the fields of genetics, energy, transport and many other areas of innovation. But we must look at the reality that is today’s labour market and imagine how it could be organised, along with a completely renewed social security system, in years to come.
Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, Mickaël Berrebi

Chapter 5. Human Genius at the Controls

Abstract
In these early years of the twenty-first century, we may be closer than ever to approaching absolute knowledge. It is true that more than ever before, we feel we are unravelling the mystery of human creation. We hope to master genetic engineering; we feel as though nothing can escape us, thanks to large-scale data processing. But science is almost always a synonym for the power of certain communities of people over others, via extremely powerful networks which jeopardise democracy—our way of life, and our private lives—at the same time. There is nothing condemning us to this fate, but everything today points to a takeover of applied science and revolutionary technologies by businesses which are gradually substituting themselves for states, politics and the collective will. This could eventually lead to new forms of slavery.
Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, Mickaël Berrebi

Chapter 6. A Disengaged Society?

Abstract
Faced with sociological upheavals unknown since the second industrial revolution, society is sustaining two opposing visions of the coming months and years. One is rigid and closed: populism. The other is committed to redefining a modern humanism which is respectful to humans, their liberty and their dignity. Never, since the nineteenth century, have human societies, whether in developed or emerging countries, been so divided, nor the labour markets so polarised, and the middle classes produced by Fordism so fragile. For the first time in a long time, the spread of technology is playing a part in the gradual disappearance of politics and the emergence of a rejection of our democratic society.
Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, Mickaël Berrebi

Chapter 7. Who Governs: Politicians, or Technology Prophets?

Abstract
The beginning of the twenty-first century strangely resembles the end of the nineteenth century, when large trusts, in particular the American oil companies, effectively governed their own country and, to some extent, the world. The large technological companies, whether in digital, genetic, energy or space transport technology, have quickly understood this public vacuum and defined the future—their future, and now ours too—by designing society as they see it. For the first time, public discourse is more important than reality. This situation will not last: but it remains a unique moment in the relations between players in the economic and political arenas.
Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, Mickaël Berrebi

Chapter 8. Two Possible Paths: The Great Parting of Ways

Abstract
We are convinced that the twenty-first century will be one marked by confrontation between public authorities—states, political unions, regions, even cities—and the major private stakeholders of the ongoing technological revolution, of which the new digital world is only a very first step. Who will carry off the victory: the genetic engineering companies or the states? Nobody can predict that today. However, what is certain is that those stakeholders will produce one of two possible societies: two worlds, which look almost nothing like each other. This chapter will explore those two possible scenarios.
Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, Mickaël Berrebi

Chapter 9. Re-humanising the World

Abstract
Everything is still to play for today, provided the future is not dictated to us by a few technology gurus—our so-called prophets—and that collective political thinking regains the upper hand. Unfortunately, that is not the path we are following today. Not that our politicians are incapable of doing so, but simply because the world is so difficult to understand, the future so uncertain, that they feel paralysed. So we have a simple objective: to set some rules which, if imposed, will give those in power the makings of a strategy. We will set out five points here which explain the extremely strict parameters governing what our future rules must be. First and foremost, they concern the dismantling of the technology monopolies.
Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, Mickaël Berrebi

Backmatter

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