The reflections which follow build on two interrelated questions, namely, first, whether we are witnessing another ―industrial revolution‖, and second, what is the impact of technological transformations upon the current dynamics of the socio-economic fabric, especially with respect to employment, income distribution, working conditions and labour relations. We argue that the processes of innovation and diffusion of what we could call ―intelligent automation‖ are likely to change the incumbent patterns of distribution of income and power, which have been there well before the arrival of the technologies we are concerned about. Some of them are indeed intrinsic features of capitalism since its inception, while others emerged over the last thirty-forty years. First, we shall offer a fresco of such tendencies which certainly preceded any potential ―Fourth Industrial Revolution‖ but are going to be amplified by the latter, within a process that we shall call ―rentification of capitalism‖. Second, we discuss the features of such possible new techno-economic paradigm, distinguishing between so-called Industry 4.0 and the more pervasive impact of big-data analytics upon the social reproduction sphere. Third, we examine the relationships between technology, productivity and growth, and theensuing impact on jobs. Finally, we discuss the patterns of division of labour, distribution of knowledge, power, and control in the era of rentified capitalism. Finally, we address some policy implications.
- Social fabric, technology, macroeconomic development, division of labour, knowledge, inequality