Andrew Colley
September 25, 2018

Switzer: Perils of creative disruption

Civic Nation

Switzer: Perils of creative disruption

Tom Switzer: There is a growing resentment among the digitally disenfranchised

The conversation around the digital innovation is normally about its endless potential to deliver productivity improvements and prosperity.

However, at Civic Nation 2018, Centre for Independent Studies executive director Tom Switzer will explore the confronting issue of what happens to the digitally disenfranchised, and whether they increase the potential for more radical views to enter into modern politics.

Mr Switzer says that many voters who took revenge on the Washington establishment over its handling of Iraq and the global financial crisis by voting for Donald Trump were, much less than perceived, also victims of technological change and globalisation.

Mr Switzer derives his views from the theories of prominent early 20th century Austrian-born economist Joseph Schumpeter, who described capitalism as a form of “creative destruction”.

For Schumpeter, creative destruction is the ongoing process whereby capitalism constantly regenerates its base economic structures from within, destroying the outgoing ones in the process.

“Nothing better demonstrates that today than digital innovation. We’re going to create a lot of new jobs and there’ll be a lot of productivity benefits, but what happens to the losers in that process?,” Mr Switzer asks/

“We’ve already seen in many parts of America and Europe those losers embrace populist, political insurgencies that peddle what I would argue are very interventionist and wrongheaded economic prescriptions,” he said.

“We haven’t had that problem here in Australia because we’ve had 27 years of uninterrupted growth and, until recently, wage growth. But that day will come and what are policy makers going to do about it?”

The plight of truck drivers with the advent of driverless trucks, he says, is a prime example of the problem. And what about the impact of artificial intelligence on modern warfare where mission-focused driverless tanks carry out tasks without the tempering influence of human judgement?

“What are the unintended consequences of artificial intelligence in the battlefield? It might limit casualties for the warring parties, but it might also lead to more collateral damage,” Mr Switzer says.

Mr Switzer will deliver a keynote address at the Civic Nation 2018 forum in Sydney on Thursday September 27. You can reserve your seat here.

The full list of speakers are:

  • The Hon. Steven Marshall MP, Premier of South Australia
  • The Hon. Ed Husic MP, Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy, and Shadow Minister for Human Services, Federal Opposition
  • Nick Hanauer, Co-founder and Partner, Second Avenue Partners and Founder, Civic Ventures
  • Andrew Charlton, Director, AlphaBeta
  • Tom Switzer, Executive Director, The Centre for Independent Studies
  • Rev. Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, World Vision
  • Prof. Toby Walsh, Scientica Professor, Artificial Intelligence, UNSW
  • Paul Shetler, Co-Founder, AccelerateHQ and Former CEO, Digital Transformation Office
  • Ellen Broad, Independent Data Consultant and Former Head of Policy at Open Data Institute
  • Adrian Turner, Chief Executive Officer, Data61
  • Claire McFarland, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, US Studies Centre
  • Danny Gilligan, Chief Executive Officer, Reinventure
  • Glenn Archer, Visiting Fellow, ANU and former government Chief Information Officer, Australian Government
  • Loretta Joseph, Director, International Regulatory Advisory, Paradym Global Ltd
  • Pia Andrews, Executive Director of Digital Government, NSW Government
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