Former US President Barack Obama’s speech at the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg on Tuesday 17 July 2018.

‘But even as there are discussions to be had around trade and commerce, it’s important to recognize this reality: while the outsourcing of jobs from north to south, from east to west, while a lot of that was a dominant trend in the late 20th century, the biggest challenge to workers in countries like mine, today, is technology.

And the biggest challenge for your new president, when we think about how we’re going to employ more people here, is going to be also technology – because artificial intelligence is here and it is accelerating, and you’re going to have driverless cars, and you’re going to have more and more automated services, and that’s going to make the job of giving everybody work that is meaningful tougher, and we’re going to have to be more imaginative, and the pact of change is going to require us to do more fundamental reimagining of our social and political arrangements, to protect the economic security and the dignity that comes with a job.

It’s not just money that a job provides; it provides dignity and structure and a sense of place and a sense of purpose. (Applause) And so we’re going to have to consider new ways of thinking about these problems, like a universal income, review of our workweek, how we retrain our young people, how we make everybody an entrepreneur at some level. But we’re going to have to worry about economics if we want to get democracy back on track.’

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