The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies
Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A New York Times Bestseller. A “fascinating” (Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times) look at how digital technology is transforming our work and our lives.
In recent years, Google’s autonomous cars have logged thousands of miles on American highways and IBM’s Watson trounced the best human Jeopardy! players. Digital technologies―with hardware, software, and networks at their core―will in the near future diagnose diseases more accurately than doctors can, apply enormous data sets to transform retailing, and accomplish many tasks once considered uniquely human.
In The Second Machine Age MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee―two thinkers at the forefront of their field―reveal the forces driving the reinvention of our lives and our economy. As the full impact of digital technologies is felt, we will realize immense bounty in the form of dazzling personal technology, advanced infrastructure, and near-boundless access to the cultural items that enrich our lives.
Amid this bounty will also be wrenching change. Professions of all kinds―from lawyers to truck drivers―will be forever upended. Companies will be forced to transform or die. Recent economic indicators reflect this shift: fewer people are working, and wages are falling even as productivity and profits soar.
Drawing on years of research and up-to-the-minute trends, Brynjolfsson and McAfee identify the best strategies for survival and offer a new path to prosperity. These include revamping education so that it prepares people for the next economy instead of the last one, designing new collaborations that pair brute processing power with human ingenuity, and embracing policies that make sense in a radically transformed landscape.
A fundamentally optimistic book, The Second Machine Age alters how we think about issues of technological, societal, and economic progress.
thought we understood digitization pretty well based on the work of Shapiro, Varian, and others, and based on our almost constant exposure to online content, but in the past few years the phenomenon has evolved in some unexpected directions. It has also exploded in volume, velocity, and variety. This surge in digitization has had two profound consequences: new ways of acquiring knowledge (in other words, of doing science) and higher rates of innovation. This chapter will explore the fascinating
theories. What’s more, there’s no end in sight. The advances we’ve seen in the past few years, and in the early sections of this book—cars that drive themselves, useful humanoid robots, speech recognition and synthesis systems, 3D printers, Jeopardy!-champion computers—are not the crowning achievements of the computer era. They’re the warm-up acts. As we move deeper into the second machine age we’ll see more and more such wonders, and they’ll become more and more impressive. How can we be so
counted, counts. As Nobel Prize winner Joe Stiglitz put it: The fact that GDP may be a poor measure of well-being, or even of market activity, has, of course, long been recognized. But changes in society and the economy may have heightened the problems, at the same time that advances in economics and statistical techniques may have provided opportunities to improve our metrics.28 The new metrics will differ both in conception and execution. We can build on some of the existing surveys and
choices instead of locking them in, technological advance is an awe-inspiring engine of betterment and bounty. It is also an engine driving spread, creating larger and larger differences over time in areas that we care about—wealth, income, standards of living, and opportunities for advancement. Some of these trends (particularly rising inequality) are also visible in other countries. We wish that progress in digital technologies were a rising tide that lifted all boats equally in all areas, but
present law we have a positive Income Tax that everybody knows about. . . . [U]nder the Positive Income Tax if you happen to be the head of a family of four, for example, and you have $3,000 of income, you neither pay a tax nor receive any benefit from it. You’re just on the break-even point. Suppose you have an income of $4,000. Then you have $1,000 of positive taxable income, on which at current rates (14%) you pay $140.00 in tax. Suppose today you had an income of $2,000. Well then you’re