The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee

A New York Times Bestseller

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 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 will alter how we think about issues of technological, societal, and economic progress.
Erik Brynjolfsson is the Schussel Family Professor at the MIT Sloan School, the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research and teaching examine the effects of information technologies on business strategy, productivity and employment. His recent work studies data-driven decision-making and the role intangible assets. Brynjolfsson is a director or advisor for several technology-intensive firms and lectures worldwide on technology and strategy. His work has been recognized with 10 Best Paper prizes and five patents. He received his A.B. and S.M. degrees from Harvard and his Ph.D. from MIT.


Andrew McAfee a principal research scientist at MIT, studies how digital technologies are changing business, the economy, and society. He writes books, twoblogs, academic papers, and articles for publications including Harvard Business Review, The Economist, The Wall St. Journal, and The New York Times. He’s talked about his work on The Charlie Rose Show and 60 Minutes, at TED and the Aspen Ideas Festival, and in front of many other audiences.

He was educated at Harvard and MIT, where he is the co-founder of the Institute’s Initiative on the Digital Economy.

He lives in Cambridge, watches too much Red Sox baseball, doesn’t ride his motorcycle enough, and starts his weekends with the NYT Saturday crossword.

Click here to browse inside.

Erik Brynjolfsson: The key to growth? Race with the machines


As machines take on more jobs, many find themselves out of work or with raises indefinitely postponed. Is this the end of growth? No, says Erik Brynjolfsson — it’s simply the growing pains of a radically reorganized economy. A riveting case for why big innovations are ahead of us … if we think of computers as our teammates. Be sure to watch the opposing viewpoint from Robert Gordon.

Andrew McAfee: What will future jobs look like?


Economist Andrew McAfee suggests that, yes, probably, droids will take our jobs — or at least the kinds of jobs we know now. In this far-seeing talk, he thinks through what future jobs might look like, and how to educate coming generations to hold them.

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