The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0393350649

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.

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faster growth. See Menzie Chinn, “Data on Tax Rates, by Quintiles,” Econbrowser, July 12, 2012, Chapter 14 LONG-TERM RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Craig Tomlin, “SXSW 2012 Live Blog Create More Value Than You Capture,” Useful Usability, March 12, 2012, 2. Sir Winston Churchill and Robert Rhodes James, Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches,

challenge—who, for example, made the best prediction about hospital readmission rates despite having no experience in health care—and so would not have been consulted as part of any traditional search for solutions. In many cases, these demonstrably capable and successful data scientists acquired their expertise in new and decidedly digital ways. Between February and September of 2012 Kaggle hosted two competitions about computer grading of student essays, which were sponsored by the Hewlett

entry, leaving behind a residual set of tasks that require relatively more judgment, skills, and training. Companies with the biggest IT investments typically made the biggest organizational changes, usually with a lag of five to seven years before seeing the full performance benefits.22 These companies had the biggest increase in the demand for skilled work relative to unskilled work.23 The lags reflected the time that it takes for managers and workers to figure out new ways to use the

have been incubated in government labs. In 2010 Stuxnet hobbled at least one Iranian nuclear facility by perverting the control systems of its Siemens industrial equipment. The worm entered its target sites and spread through them by jumping harmlessly from PC to PC; when it spotted an opportunity, it crossed over to the Siemens machines and did its damage there.2 Until recently, our species did not have the ability to destroy itself. Today it does. What’s more, that power will reach the hands

Christopher Drew, “For iRobot, the Future Is Getting Closer,” New York Times, March 2, 2012, 31. Danielle Kucera, “Amazon Acquires Kiva Systems in Second-Biggest Takeover,” Bloomberg, March 19, 2012, (accessed June 23, 2013). 32. Marc DeVidts, “First Production Run of Double Has Sold Out!,” August 16,

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