Book Review – The Second Machine Age

second machine ageBook 7 for my #50BooksIn2016 challenge. Find out more about the challenge here.

The rapid change in technology over the past few decades is unlike anything prior in human history. The impacts are just starting to be understood, but the future change is expected to be even faster than before, meaning the impacts are likely to continue evolving. Brynjolfsson and McAfee talk about the technology developments, the impacts now and the potential impacts in the future, and provide some potential solutions to some of the pitfalls of this exponential growth.

 

As long as we have written science fiction stories, we have written about machines taking over humans. The book details the advancements of machines and their impact on human labor, providing guidance on what jobs computers may or may not be able to do in the future. There are a few key areas where humans are not likely to lose ground anytime soon. Highly physical jobs will continue to need human labor. Jobs requiring ideation, large frame pattern recognition, and complex communications will also continue to be ruled by humans. (I’m particularly glad to see ideation on the list.)

 

While the increase in technology has brought with it a great bounty in a number of areas, it has also brought with it a great spread between those at the top and those at the bottom. This gap is the largest concern to the authors in terms of the continued exponential growth in technology. Many of the jobs being done by machines now are those previously help by the middle class. Basic manual labor and high-level thinking are the jobs that can’t be done by computers and the wage gap between them is incredibly large.

Some suggestions are provided to help ease the spread without affecting the bounty, mostly around overall increases in the economy and the total number of jobs. Entrepreneurship is highly praised.

After having read the book, I am more confident in my ability to earn money due to my focus on innovation and creativity. Technology is rapidly changing, however. If some day computers can help you innovate your life and your business, I’ll be in trouble.
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