Google chairman, Eric Schmidt, has warned the jobs problem will be “the defining one” for the next two-three decades.
He said given the constant development of new technology, more and more middle class workers would lose their jobs.
Speaking at a meeting at the World Economic Forum at Davos, he added that it was not clear if workers would have the right skills to be re-hired.
Mr Schmidt compared the situation to the industrial revolution.
He called for more industry-wide innovation.
“It’s a race between computers and people – and people need to win,” he said.
The one-time chief executive of Google said that there was an enormous amount of innovation happening, and it would be an economic mistake to delay adopting efficient new technologies.
He pointed out that, on a net basis, more jobs were created by small companies and therefore entrepreneurs needed more support otherwise the situation would get worse.
“It’s clear to me that we can get full employment, but wages are still depressed,” Mr Schmidt told the forum.
“As more routine tasks are automated, this will lead to much more part-time work in caring and creative industries. The classic 9-5 job will be redefined,” he said.
On the subject of privacy, Mr Schmidt said at “least we’re having a debate now”.
He added: “This is a luxury problem. The majority of people do not live in democracies and do not trust their government.
“It’s not a debate they’re having. For them, the ability to use the internet totally overwhelms their fear of how the government uses it.”