Audie Award, Judges Award Science Technology, A Revolution Is Under Way In Recent Years, Google S Autonomous Cars Have Logged Thousands Of Miles On American Highways And IBM S Watson Trounced The Best Human Jeopardyplayers Digital Technologies With Hardware, Software, And Networks At Their Core Will In The Near Future Diagnose Diseases 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 Audiobook, The Second Machine Age Will Alter How We Think About Issues


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

  1. Frank Lepave Frank Lepave says:

    This is an economists view of the effect of the latest digital technologies on the economy They characterise the current revolution as a second machine age with the first being the application of steam power to industrial processes started by James Watt with a long consequent tail of dependent innovations that ran right through to the twentieth century changing society, work and economy The analysis is a bit cumbersome As engineers we are used to putting concepts from disparate areas and building something that was just not possible before They look at the effect of the current technology revolution on work, income inequality and try to explain these changes The most interesting sections for me were when they began to look at how human society might respond and how to educate the workers of the future so that they can work with machines rather than compete against them This seems to encouraging Montessori style self directed learning to encourage ideation, large frame pattern recognition and complex communication They highlighted the failure of graduate education in this respect and this has made me look at my own teaching and assessment methods for future classes I give.


  2. Athan Athan says:

    The authors of this book had a runaway success with its predecessor, the 76 page Race Against the Machine What they ve done here is put some flesh on the bones, really.The summary is simple The digital revolution is every bit as important as the previous industrial revolution, the one that was all to do with the steam engine and electricity Those who deny this must consider the evidence Technology is at the moment truly racing ahead and has started to do things that a short ten years ago genuine friends of the digital revolution considered impossible The three buzzwords are exponential, digital and combinatorial I did not totally buy this line of argumentation when I read the Race Against the Machine, but here it s argued a lot better and I must say I was convinced Exponential is all about how computer power doubles every 18 months For the last 30 years it has seemed like Moore s Law only has ten years left in it based on what we know about physics, materials etc and yet human ingenuity has found a way to carry on Presented with evidence of the above, I ve had to concede that the authors have a point and it s silly to bet against exponential growth of computer power Just when it looks like we ve hit some hard limit in the laws of Physics or the science of materials we ve always found a way to carry on calculating faster Which of course means it s a matter of time before computers will be able to do absolutely everything to do with seeing, recognizing etc that they can t already do I m sold Digital is a big deal too The idea here is the digitally encoded information i ain t going anywhere and ii does not get used up If I use a gallon of oil, that s a gallon of oil that s not available to you Not so with a song that s saved in 0s and 1s or a book or a beautiful picture We can share, and we can share it forever Combinatorial comes to the rescue of those who fear their limited physical existence cannot keep up with the exponential growth of computer power It s alright if a computer can perform tasks better than you and keeps getting even better because there s one thing that can be faster than exponential growth and that s combinatorial growth So people who can combine things and can command computer power can combine it all to keep up with the machine So for example a bunch of OK chess players who have very strong computers at their disposal will beat the world s best computer or the world s best chessmaster More to the point, there are tons of technologies out there, the value these days is in using than one at once The example of a traffic app is given that not only uses good maps and the GPS infrastructure, but leverages the power of the network established by its users mobile phones another technology , network being the key word here.So it s fascinating and convincing stuff.From there the book moves on to the bit that I found to be the true contribution of Race Against the Machine New fancy words have been unleashed upon us here Bounty and Spread Bounty is the massive benefit of machines allowing us to do with less, like for example sharing billions of pictures almost for free, or keeping in touch with all of our friends for absolutely free, or taking an MIT class from the comfort of your bedroom in Cameroon without paying MIT tuition, or keeping track of where your daughter s hanging out at three in the morning for a fiver a month not sure at all about this one Spread refers to the fact that if you were employed in a routine job you re either unemployed or you won t be employed for long, because your job will be taken over by a machine.And the usual roster of winners and losers is rolled out So if you play for Manchester United it s fantastic if people can follow you and pay to watch you in East Asia, but it s less fun if you are a good but not ManU level player out in East Asia because nobody s going to come watch Bounty and Spread in one example here, what with everybody being able to enjoy watching ManU all while Rooney is eating all other football players lunch He deserves it, many will argue, but what about them So I got myself a comfy chair to read the chapter where the authors explain that, rather than the laundry list of explanations like for example the overleveraging of the lower middle class or the greed of Goldman Sachs or the global glut of savings and so on the current recession depression whatever you want to call it is caused by the machines that have replaced everybody who used to do repetitive mental work That was surely going to be the most fascinating bit of the book.But, in the words of Quentin Tarantino, I could not find it because it wasn t there They took that bit out.Pity, because it was my favourite bit of the first book They just mention that it wasn t globalization whodunit because i China is losing manufacturing employment as fast as we are and ii the most precarious jobs on earth are probably the ones we exported for example to India, as the back office documentation call center work we sent over there is sooner rather than later going to be done by machines.But beyond crossing out globalization as a culprit, the authors have neglected the Great Depression MKII part that I was most looking forward to I really wanted to hear something along the lines of well, you might be a damn fool, Athan, but your kids, if they are like other kids on the planet, are totally on top of this exponential, digital and combinatorial revolution Here s a bunch of stuff other kids are doing with their time, you just hang in there bud, do what you can to pass on the baton and watch them little ones and everybody else thrive and kiss this depression goodbye But no, I looked hard and that s nowhere to be found in the book.Instead, there s a very tired list of long term recommendations that you could have torn out of Blinder s book Heck, you could have torn them out of Jeff Sachs s book Like, for example Teach our Children Well and Restart Startups and the good old Rebuild Infrastructure Tax proposals galore too, some of them genuinely outlandish WHAT ON EARTH Infrastructure Everybody and his mom knows the stat about how many of our bridges are in bad shape And please somebody tell me what the connection is between tax and technology None of those tech companies have ever paid any tax, their IP lives in an Irish Bermudan Martian tax enclave, last I checked.I think they handed over the book to a grad student halfway through Perhaps they left it to a computer Now, there s a thought.But the first 100 pages were damn good, so I ll be very generous and give The Second Machine Age four stars


  3. Rev. Mac Rev. Mac says:

    There are some interesting concepts discussed, including the how did we get here , but this does appear to be about massaging the many legions of self appointed experts in AI than discussing any genuinely new theories.Beware any seminar where the speaker continually refers to passages in this book It appears that there is a new sector for people who have been urged to regurgitate verbatim most of this content in lieu of any actual experience in the industry.Great as a reference book though.


  4. PeterF PeterF says:

    Fascinating book Both uplifting and worrying Takes the reader on a roller coaster ride upbeat in terms of explaining how advances in computing are leading to machines doing tasks which only a few years ago we thought were impossible for machines and portrays a future where the rate of change increases exponentially The book then examines the societal impacts of these changes on employment and the distribution of wealth in society that is the worrying part The book then comes to the optimistic conclusion that it is mankind working with the machines which will allow us to maximise the benefits of the second machine age.though we will need to address the societal and educational challenges that come with this A highly thought provoking book that for me was entirely convincing an eye opener.


  5. G. Dack G. Dack says:

    For a book written by Economists, this is surprisingly readable It is a good overview of the current state of the onrush of IT in today s society together with thought provoking predictions and suggestions for the future The book, naturally, frequently alludes to American trends and society and freely uses quotations from a shed load of wise and or learned people which begin to grate a little after some time I also wonder if a happy society is always an increasingly prosperous, consumer society The book is very optimistic and sometimes seems to me to assume an extremely altruistic view of mankind.The last chapter is very thought provoking and provides a suitable conclusion, apart from the 49 pages of acknowledgements and references , to a worthwhile read Recommended.