22 February 2017

Uberisation of the Labour Market

About the content

Mr Smit’s intervention started with a definition of industry 4.0 before exploring the mechanisation of the labour market, the internet of things, and the broader concept of uberisation. He spoke of the impact technology has in manufacturing and services, and drew the link between changing demographics in the developing world and the changes we are facing in economics. His broad but stimulating take instinctively sparked debate.


“Humans can’t be replaced by robots” – an obvious yet pertinent quote that was stated amongst the participants, challenging the future role of Artificial Intelligence. Participants from the ILO gave a legal perspective on the impact technology will have on employment regulation, and questioned whether the change will be as big in the field of economics. Questions addressed by the participants concerned how regulation and policy changes can be applied at a local and global scale – is the answer more top-down regulation of tech giants? Or rather bottom-up redistribution and training?


The talk also touched on the importance of values in decisions made on regulation, and on what kind of society we want to create for humanity. We also encountered the development issue: whether new regulations would increase the North-South gap even further or whether this is a chance to reduce inequalities.


The participants agreed on one point: policy makers must play the leading role in finding a solution for inequality through better implementation of values and ethics and, most of all, by improving access to and quality of education.

About the speaker

Jan Smit is an expert from the Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services based in London. With his team, Mr. Smit presented “Industry 4.0” to the European Parliament, a research paper on the new technologies driving a fourth industrial revolution. Click here to read the report.