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We are seeing a profound transition towards the Next Digital Economy. It may be challenging for us to understand and respond to the speed, scale and depth of these changes. The question of whether artificial intelligence and automation will create or eliminate jobs is crucial, and worthy of the sustained attention it is receiving. But this is only one aspect of the Next Digital Economy that is emerging as digital technologies mature and combine. Some see the advent of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” but perhaps it goes even further. The changes we are seeing in industry may be early examples of a broader transition to a new economic model for the production and consumption of goods and services – one that is digitally intermediated, on demand, and highly distributed.
For all the benefits they have brought, previous economic transitions have also been wrenching for many who lived through them. They spawned new ways of thinking, overturned powerful institutions, and transformed the human and natural environments. If we are seeing the beginnings of a new economic model, we should prepare as best we can for the disruptions that could mark this transition. By exploring a range of plausible impacts, we can better anticipate and address the challenges that could emerge, as well as identify and capture the benefits that may arise.