March 8, 2015 11:01 pm
Society is hardly in need of champions of technology
Sir, Jérôme Wittamer (Letters, March 6) totally misses the point of the impact of technological change on society, as does Walter Isaacson (“Luddites fear humanity will make short work of finite wants”, March 4). In economics, a Pareto optimum is reached when no one is worse off and at least one person is better off, a nice piece of geometry, but to achieve it requires a compensation mechanism to kick in. An unemployed cleaner cannot easily find a new job as a software programmer for the robot that ate her lunch.
The Luddites faced the challenge with a little more understanding, as did the list of economists so easily brushed aside by Mr Wittamer. Society is hardly in need of champions of technology. Rather, society needs workable ideas as to how to compensate the losers more effectively than it so far has managed to do.
Associate Professor and Director, TRP,
University of Hong Kong
The original article is available here: Society is hardly in need of champions of technology [Financial Times, 8 Mar, 2015]