The Economic Possibilities of Technology


Working Groups: Economic Development, Complexity Economics, Economic History, Economics of Innovation, Financial Stability, Urban and Regional Economics, Keynesian Economics

In the midst of the Great Depression John Maynard Keynes (1930) described The Economic Possibilities of Our Grandchildren, trying to remedy “a bad attack of pessimism”. Since the Luddites destroyed weaving machinery in 19th century England, technological pessimism has cast a shadow over invention, artificial intelligence and automation. But over the course of history, new jobs were created as machines replaced and augmented manual labour. 

Is this time different? Rapid developments in robotics and artificial intelligence and the on-going automation of jobs suggest that the redundancy of labour is imminent. Moreover, the decline of industry and the rise of service-based economies that are more amenable to technology do indicate that this time may be different. What do the coming of robots mean for employment, human development, economic growth and distribution? This is the central question that motivates this call for papers.

We invite contributions that focus on the following themes:

  1. Industrial Organization: Winner-takes-most Industrial Dynamics, Product and Labor Market Concentration and their Consequences for Labor Market Power, Vertical Competition between Unevenly Powerfulf Firms, Cybernetics Coordination and Strategic Planning of Lead Firms

  2. Technology and Gender: Feminist Theories of Technology, The role of Technology in Shaping the Gendered Division of Labor (Paid and Unpaid), Technological Development and Gender Equality (National and Global Processes)

  3. Long-term Economic Growth: Pre-WWII Productivity Growth, Industrial Revolution, Secular Stagnation, Crises of Demand, Debt, Productivity Paradox, Effective demand, Long-run path dependency

  4. History of Innovations, Technological Paradigms and their Effects, General Purpose Technologies

  5. Economic Development: De-industrialization, Servicization, Migration, Global Technology Governance, Global Imbalances, Public Policies for Innovation.

  6. Economic Complexity: Technological Capabilities, Climbing the Technological Ladder

  7. Combinatorial Technological Progress: Measuring Technological Innovation, Determinants of Technological Recombination

  8. Learning from other Sciences: Innovation in Biological, Physical and Engineering Systems, Measuring Innovation in Arts and Humanities (text, paintings, music….)

  9. Capitalism and Technology: Automation as “a veil over capitalism”, Social and Political Challenges of Low-employment Societies

  10. Automation and Capital: Heterodox Conceptualizations of Capital, Digitalization in Economic Theory  

  11. Regional Development Policies in Face of New Technological Paradigms: EU Cohesion Policy and the Smart Specialization Strategy; Smart Cities and Smart Regions; Regional Resilience, Adaptation and Adaptability; Disparities, Convergences and Divergences in European Regional Setting.

  12. Technology, Financial Innovations and Financial Stability: High-frequency Trading, Emerging Fintechs, Blockchain, New Payment/Clearing/Settlements Platforms, E-Currencies, End of Cash

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