The Law-Technology Cycle and the Future of Work
29 Pages Posted: 22 May 2018
Date Written: March 2018
Features of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, such as platforms, AI and machine learning, pose challenges for the application of regulatory rules, in the area of labour law as elsewhere. However, today’s digital technologies have their origins in earlier phases of industrialisation, and do not, in themselves, mark a step change in the evolution of capitalism, which was, and is, characterised by successive waves of creative destruction. The law does not simply respond to technological change; it also facilitates and mediates it. Digitalisation, by permitting the appropriation of collective knowledge, has the capacity to undermine existing forms of regulation, while creating the space for new ones. It may erode the position of some professions while enabling others, complementary to new technologies, to emerge. It is unlikely to bring about the redundancy of forms of labour law regulation centred on the employment relationship. We appear to reaching a point in the law-technology cycle where push-back against regulatory arbitrage can be expected.
Keywords: gig economy, digitalisation, future of work, labour law, law and technology, Uber
JEL Classification: J41, J48, K31, L22, O33
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