HughPickens.com writes: Somini Sengupta writes in the NY Times that a new report from the World Bank concludes that the vast changes wrought by Internet technology have not expanded economic opportunities or improved access to basic public services but stand to widen inequalities and even hasten the hollowing out of middle-class employment. "Digital technologies are spreading rapidly, but digital dividends — growth, jobs and services — have lagged behind," says the bank in a news release announcing the report. "If people have the right skills, digital technology will help them become more efficient and productive, but if the right skills are lacking, you'll end up with a polarized labor market and more inequality," says Uwe Deichmann. Those who are already well-off and well-educated have been able to take advantage of the Internet economy, the report concludes pointedly, but despite the expansion of Internet access, 60 percent of humanity remains offline. According to the report, in developed countries and several large middle-income countries, technology is automating routine jobs, such as factory work, and some white-collar jobs. While some workers benefit, "a large share" of workers get pushed down to lower-paying jobs that cannot be automated. "What we're seeing is not so much a destruction of jobs but a reshuffling of jobs, what economists have been calling a hollowing out of the labor market. You see the share of mid-level jobs shrinking and lower-end jobs increasing."
The report adds that in the developing world digital technologies are not a shortcut to development, though they can accelerate it if used in the right way. "We see a lot of disappointment and wasted investments. It's actually quite shocking how many e-government projects fail," says Deichmann. "While technology can be extremely helpful in many ways, it's not going to help us circumvent the failures of development over the last couple of decades. You still have to get the basics right: education, business climate, and accountability in government."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.