January 17, 2014


What if automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence are bearing down on us at a faster rate than we ever anticipated? Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, authors of "The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies," say technology is rapidly reshaping our economy. 

According to McAfee and Brynjolfsson, technology has become so advanced that it will soon have the ability to replace scores of jobs performed by humans – and not just the ones you might expect.  Check out this recap of a fantasy football league, for example. Notice anything odd? This was written not by a sports reporter. In fact, it wasn’t really “written” at all. It was automatically generated by a computer from raw data at a company called “Automated Insights.”

The next wave of automation will fundamentally alter the way wealth is distributed, say McAfee and Brynjolfsson. In an age in which the most profitable companies are becoming smaller and smaller – think Instagram, which only had thirteen employees when it was purchased by Facebook – we’re moving toward a “winner take all” economy where wealth is concentrated in the hands of the very wealthiest people, whether they be pop stars, computer programmers, or app developers.

So once technology automates our jobs and redistributes our wealth, where will the rest of us be?

“We’re going to be kicking back and enjoying the fruits and benefits of this automated economy and the stuff that it generates for us,” McAfee says. Though, he says it’s always easier to see the “destruction” part of creative destruction than it is to see the creation. His vision of the future is a “Digital Athens” where humans are freed from repetitive labor to think big thoughts and generate important ideas – something robots haven’t quite learned how to do…yet.

To hear more from McAfee and Brynjolfsson about the impending Second Machine Age – including how we should rethink our educational system to fit the new economy technology will create – check out our full interview, above.

robots, Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee, automation, Sci and Tech, Business, jobs, economy

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