Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Business Impact

The World Is More Unequal Than Ever. Is That Because of Technology?

The global elite meet to talk big-picture economics, while the gap between the rich and the rest of the world continues to grow.

The world’s richest 62 people now control as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion. Let that sink in—it’s a key finding from a report (PDF) out Monday by Oxfam showing the shocking extent of inequality in the world today. The pattern is even worse when you consider the wealthiest 1 percent of people: they are richer than the other 99 percent combined.

As the world’s business and government leaders gather at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, the meeting will focus on what advanced technology means for the global economy. This is a big open question. While many who work in high-tech jobs like to think their field is improving the world, the truth looks to be more complicated. There are signs that spreading access to the Internet enhances inequality, for example. Workers like those in Silicon Valley, who are blessed with ample technological resources, may be on the right side of a winner-take-all economy. And what of the increasing automation of jobs? Are robots robbing the working class of a steady paycheck?

Despite their pledge to mull these important, far-reaching issues, the world’s elite aren’t known for coming up with radical solutions at their annual Davos gathering. Indeed, the meeting has a reputation for being a bit of a bubble in which the moneyed pat one another on the back for doing a good job with the world’s economy while fretting about its future. If they are truly concerned about how technology affects inequality, perhaps this year they will spare a bit more time for the latter.

(source: New York Times, Guardian, Economist)

Countdown to EmTech Digital 2019. Join us and be the AI leader your company needs.

Register now
More from Business Impact

How technology advances are changing the economy and providing new opportunities in many industries.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to MIT Technology Review.
  • Print + All Access Digital {! insider.prices.print_digital !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The best of MIT Technology Review in print and online, plus unlimited access to our online archive, an ad-free web experience, discounts to MIT Technology Review events, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    6 bi-monthly issues of print + digital magazine

    10% discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    Ad-free website experience

    The Download: newsletter delivered daily

  • All Access Digital {! insider.prices.digital !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The digital magazine, plus unlimited site access, our online archive, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    Digital magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    The Download: newsletter delivered daily

  • Print Subscription {! insider.prices.print_only !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six print issues per year plus The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Print magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    The Download: newsletter delivered daily

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.