Billionaire Jeff Greene Says Technology Will Kill White-Collar Jobs, Hosts Conference On Inequality

By Chase Peterson-WithornFORBES STAFF

I cover billionaires as part of Forbes’ wealth team.

Touch-screen ordering at fast food restaurants, robots welding car parts at Tesla factories, apps like Uber taking a bite out of the taxi and limo industry: They’re all good for innovation but perhaps not so great for the workers whose jobs are on the line, according to real estate billionaire Jeff Greene.

“What globalization did to blue collar jobs and the working class economy over the past 30 or 40 years, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics will do to the white collar economy — and at a much, much faster pace,” says Greene.

It’s a problem that will only exacerbate the growing gap between the rich and the poor, he claims, because we’ve left ourselves unprepared for the inevitable automation of many jobs traditionally done by humans.

“I realized that that is the greatest threat we have in our country today,” says Greene. “So I thought, ‘Let’s convene some of the greatest minds from academia, government, business and the nonprofit sector to come together to talk realistically about what’s happening.’”

What he devised is a two-day conference spanning Monday and Tuesday dubbed “Closing the Gap: Solutions for An Inclusive Economy,” hosted by Greene at Palm Beach’s Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa. Speakers include former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, author Thomas Friedman, former Apple and Pepsi CEO John Sculley, lawyer and TV personality Star Jones and boxing legend Mike Tyson.

Panels will cover everything from debates about the role of government in trimming the gap between the rich and poor to which technologies will disrupt the workplace and fundamental discussions about fairness and corporate social responsibility.