Globalisation has certainly benefited large segments of humanity, but there are signs of growing inequality both between and within societies. As some groups increasingly monopolise the fruits of globalisation, billions are left behind.
Even more ominously, as we enter the post-industrial world, the masses are becoming redundant. The best armies no longer rely on millions of ordinary recruits, but rather on a relatively small number of highly professional soldiers using very high-tech kit and autonomous drones, robots and cyber-worms. Already today, most people are militarily useless.
The same thing might soon happen in the civilian economy, too. As artificial intelligence (AI) outperforms humans in more and more skills, it is likely to replace humans in more and more jobs. True, many new jobs might appear, but that won’t necessarily solve the problem.
Humans basically have just two types of skills – physical and cognitive – and if computers outperform us in both, they might outperform us in the new jobs just as in the old ones. Consequently, billions of humans might become unemployable, and we will see the emergence of a huge new class: the useless class.
This is one reason why human societies in the 21st century might be the most unequal in history. And there are other reasons to fear such a future.