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The Future: The Most Important Entrepreneurial Challenge of Our Time

Posted on Wednesday, Nov 16th 2016

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The US Presidential election just concluded.

The rage of the white working class that is today poor and disenfranchised has propelled Donald Trump to the White House.

Majority of the college educated did not vote for Trump.

Large numbers, in fact, did not vote at all, finding Hillary Clinton equally uninspiring.

In my previous column, The Future: An Age of Idiocracy, I pointed out that more and more, the uninformed and the ignorant will be deciding on the future heads of states in the Western democracies. [This is already the case, by the way, in countries like India, where bulk of the voting population is uneducated, uninformed, and incapable of making rational choices.]

Trump Won Because Voters Are Ignorant, Literally [Foreign Policy Magazine]:

Trump owes his victory to the uninformed. But it’s not just Trump. Political scientists  have been studying what voters know and how they think for well over 65 years. The results are frightening. Voters generally know who the president is but not much else. They don’t know which party controls Congress, what Congress has done recently, whether the economy is getting better or worse (or by how much). In the 2000 U.S. presidential election, most voters knew Al Gore was more liberal than George W. Bush, but significantly less than half knew that Gore was more supportive of abortion rights, more supportive of welfare-state programs, favored a higher degree of aid to blacks, or was more supportive of environmental regulation.

The important question of our time is what will happen to the uneducated, unskilled working class that will have no jobs and no prospects in the years to come? Their numbers, inevitably, will increase as automation marches through industry. [Heck, white collar jobs will ALSO get automated in large proportions.]

Trump may promise them protectionist policies, but if America enters into a trade war with China, it is the middle and lower income people that would be hurt the most from higher prices for their basic necessities.

Rather, I am more interested in what entrepreneurs can do to change the course of things through ingenuity and enterprise. Let me explain.

Why do you think Uber is so successful?

No, it is not because of technology.

It is successful because it has used technology to leverage the need of millions of working class people without jobs to create a new livelihood.

Uber doesn’t offer job security. It doesn’t offer health insurance. But it offers an opportunity for millions of people to make *some* money. May not be grand incomes, but some income is better than no income for most of these people who need, desperately, a means of sustenance.

Now parlay that into your entrepreneurial thinking and figure out what else can generate incomes for large numbers of blue-collar people. What other services can be thus delivered with the help of technology?

This, I believe, is the most important entrepreneurial challenge for our time.

Not Artificial Intelligence. That will create wealth and erode jobs. That will continue to accumulate fortune at the tip of the economic pyramid.

If you care about the future of humanity, figure out the future of jobs, especially jobs for the less educated, less skilled whose angst will otherwise destroy civilization as we know it.

Photo credit: Greg Younger/Flickr.com.

 

This segment is a part in the series : The Future

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