Therefore lets us further this case against the neo-Luddites with a comment from President Obama's Executive Office, December 2016, AI Report cited in the previous Blog posting:
"The 19th century was characterized by technological change that raised the productivity of lower-skilled workers and reduced the relative productivity of certain higher-skilled workers. This kind of innovation has been called unskill-biased technical change. Highly-skilled artisans who controlled and executed full production processes saw their livelihoods threatened by the rise of mass production technologies that used assembly lines with interchangeable parts and lower-skilled workers. In reaction, some English textile weavers participated in the Luddite Riots of the early 1800s by destroying looms and machinery that threatened to undercut their highly-skilled, highly-paid jobs with lower-wage roles. Ultimately, the protesters' fears came true, and many skilled crafts were replaced by the combination of machines and lower-skill labor. There were also new opportunities for less-skilled workers and output per hour rose. As a result, average living standards could rise, but certain high-skill workers were no longer as valuable in the market".
True, the lesson of the Luddites does indeed need to be absorbed and applied towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution in order to permit this movement to incorporate the Wellbeing Agenda: such that we never again leave the people behind with the pace of technological change, as the breakthroughs, which always arise after decades of intensive research and development, bare fruit. Be assured technical breakthroughs will come.
Unfortunately what the above reference to English Luddite behaviour does not clarify is that these highly skilled workers, such as Webb today, were driven by the "Fear of Starvation" because there was no Welfare State safety net to catch their fall. Rather what really differentiated the winners from the losers was how far they actually had to fall. Although for the UK policy making patrician engineering class which is now about to take The Fall over Brexit, both to their global reputation and influence, for this clique it is an in-office-but-not-in-power scenario that is unfolding, as their authority slowly leaches away.
Recall Sharon White's "Right Touch" visit to Washington last June 28th? Immediately preceding her visit Tom Wheeler had the following to say to the National Press Club in his "The Future of Wireless: A Vision for U.S. Leadership in a 5G World" on the 20th June speech, namely:
"We will be repeating the proven formula that made the United States the world leader in 4G. It's a simple formula: Lead the world in spectrum availability, encourage and protect innovation-driving competition, and stay out of the way of technological development. Unlike some countries, we do not believe we should spend the next couple of years studying what 5G should be, how it should operate, and how to allocate spectrum, based on those assumptions. Like the examples I gave earlier, the future has a way of inventing itself. Turning innovators loose is far preferable to expecting committees and regulators to define the future. Instead, we will make ample spectrum available and then rely on a private sector-led process for producing technical standards best suited for those frequencies and cases. Leadership in networks leads to leadership in uses, which quickly moves across borders"
"Quickly moves across borders"? Oh Dear. Of course the"some countries" Tom is referring too here includes the UK. "Special Relationship"? Aye Right! Alas Tom saw her coming. Hopefully readers shall have observed that the Referendum was bookend-ed between these two events. More tellingly Sharon ignored this event totally in her speech. Why? Understand that, and you shall begin to recognise the fault-line between the Americans and the British Establishment. Yes there is one - but in the UK it is well covered up and papered over unless you know where to look. Thus I believe that Sharon should absorb her Washington lesson because there she will always receive a fair hearing and thus be given the wisdom and courage to either navigate around the Webb's Luddites or simply leave them to wither on the vine by concentrating on a much needed and long overdue fiber roll-out. Globalization shall eventually take care of the parochial BT Openreach duopoly issue for her.
On the 22nd November last, Sharon gave the following evidence to the CMS Select Committee concerning 5G:
Q69 Nigel Adams: Before I start, could I again put on record my entry in the Register of Members' Financial Interests? I am a director and shareholder of a couple of telecoms businesses. There is lots of excitement and talk around 5G. Can you explain what Ofcom's role in the establishment and development of 5G is likely to look like?