From the 1% conference in Davos (though most would see that the opinions range from raging socialists to capitalists depending on where they sit)http://www.marketwatch.com/story/worlds-big-thinkers-weigh-in-on-robots-trump-and-the-coming-revolution-2016-01-22
The problem I have with some of these big thinkers is that they are far too removed from the trenches to have a fully informed opinion. Especially when they talk about the impact of tech which is quite multi-dimensional, not just the domain of coders replacing manufacturing jobs.
There are two major categories of tech that have different impacts. This distinction is missed by most "big thinkers"
1. Tech in which the marginal cost of production and distribution is close to zero. Most software and software services that require no further labor to be consumed and negligible distribution costs. This, in my opinion, is the most disruptive on society and one likely to cause the most long term damage.
This characteristic is unlike anything that has happened in history and so IS part of "this time it is different". The reason that this is so disruptive is because it tends to create huge monopolies with very little labor participation. As the marginal costs go to zero, a company can supply the entire world by pricing it close to zero which can prevent competition from gaining a foothold (you cannot compete with free with a dominant player and you cannot claim predatory pricing to prevent monopolistic policies) and the company can do so with relatively few people. Facebook is a perfect example of this. Snapchat could be next one.
This is the tech where most of the startup funding is going these days. Multiple companies come up where the VCs know only one of them is going to make it and become a unicorn but they don't know which. It doesn't matter. They spread it amongst all and when they get their one unicorn, the returns are so huge that it matters very little to them others fail. But it has changed the nature of employment. It is like playing a lottery for the employees where they keep trying with no long term stability. It is also only for those in selected geographical areas where there is startup funding. What the millenials who are participating in this do not realize is that if they do not make it by the time they hit late 30s, like many sports fields they have lost their employability except in dying large companies. Agism is the dirty little secret of Software Valley.
This type of tech does very little to improve lives elsewhere or increase the standard of living. Just concentrates wealth in a few and since it makes enough for them to not have to worry about it for a generation or two, there is very little incentive to create long term sustainable industries, just keep it going while the going is good.
Imagine if Ford had not only come out with a mass producible car first but had a cloning machine that could clone them out at zero marginal costs and could be delivered anywhere with no cost. There would have been no GM or Chrysler or even Detroit. Just one big brand. This is why Tesla cannot become the only brand supplying electric cars even if they wanted to and had the mass producible technology before everybody else.
This is the tech one really has to worry about. No amount of retraining skills or coding classes will help raise broad living standards.
2. Tech which has the same constraints and costs as traditional industry. Apple with its devices, Drones, Robotics, Medical devices, all of which do not allow a single company to dominate at the exclusion of others. This is actually good for everybody because it allows many small and large companies to co-exist that creates large employment. Scaling of such industries creates significant employment. Because, the returns in such companies are based on a longer term market penetration, the employment is also more stable. This is also, unfortunately, the field where there is the least amount of investment money available because there is no scope for a unicorn lottery win. Most of the startups in this area have been self funded or comes from work in taxpayer-supported means: Universities, government funded research labs, etc. Unfortunately, this is in serious decline except for visionaries like Elon Musk who are not thinking in terms of just the next app but has the cajones to invest personally in but also lead and deliver products against tremondous odds. Anyone who has been responsible for delivering rather than just talking, will appreciate the magnitude of contributions from people like that.
This tech can be disruptive. For example, robotics replacing workers but on the whole appears to create more jobs elsewhere unlike the first category.
Don't know of any big thinkers who have realized this distinction and so their statements may be true or false depending on which of the above categories one is looking at.