Schmidt Shares Netopia’s Concerns over Job Loss

The Davos-connection. This week, I wrote about technology leading to job loss, the so-called Luddite fallacy. Not sure Google Chairman Eric Schmidt reads Netopia regularly (probably not, right?), but his speech in Davos shows he shares my concern. At the World Economic Forum, Schmidt said there is a race between humans and computers “And the humans need to win”. Hear, hear, says Netopia. Except Schmidt forgets to remember his own role in the process, it is the cloud giants and mainly Google that is the driver of the technological developments that threatens to have this impact. It is Google’s self-driving cars that will put taxi drivers out of a job. It is Google’s advertising business that pulls the rug out from under the feet of the news media. It is the obsession with cutting out intermediaries that built Google’s empire that is also driving the job loss. That Schmidt expresses this concern without considering his own responsibility is nothing short of preposterous. The excuse “if we don’t do it, somebody else will” has never convinced anyone. But instead, Schmidt points to government to fix this.

Looking then at the European Commission, it seems that Schmidt’s calls for intervention are futile. According to today’s press release, the Commission expects the digital revolution to provide the solution, stating that since last March over 2200 digital jobs have been created in Europe (and over 5000 internships!). Great for the people who got the jobs, but that does not help in the grand scheme of things. For the first and very likely last time, Netopia says: European Commission – Listen to Google!

The increased productivity of the digital era takes away far more jobs than it creates. The growth in jobs will never come from the niche mono-cultures of the cloud giants, but much more from the SME’s that Europe has such great love for. The government should be thinking more about how to sustain a working eco-system of SME’s than how to support the locust of cloud giants sacrificing one sector after another on the altar of efficiency. Oh, we love free search and e-mail, but if our best career prospect is The Internship, we’d much rather just watch the Movie.

UPDATED: In November 2013 26,5 Million were unemployed in the European Union. Your math homework: How many Digital Agendas are needed to get them jobs? Send answers to The first correct answer wins a handshake meeting with Eric Schmidt. Or the Netopia editor. Whichever we can organise first.