September 15, 2016

Should we tax self-driving cars to save taxi-drivers’ jobs? Credit: smoothgroover22 / Flickr Creative Commons.

Should we protect the future from the past - or the past from the future? Are we fighting a losing battle trying to save jobs that aren’t coming back? Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, authors of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies and co-founders of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, explain that we can embrace innovation and automation while maintaining middle-class jobs. But our current approach leaves a lot to be desired.

Three Takeaways

  • “People worry too much about the technology being bad” when faced with disruptive innovation, says Brynjolfsson. “When they should be worrying about how can we use the technology to create shared prosperity. If we do this right, this should be the best news that ever happened to humanity. We’re talking about a world with less work and more wealth.” 
  •  A big challenge is when public policy tries to save jobs in industries that are in flux. For example: Massachusetts’ new tax on Uber and Lyft that supports the taxi industry, rather than encouraging growth in new, innovative spaces. 
  • The key to facing these changes is reinventing education to focus on skills like creativity, interpersonal collaboration and innovative problem solving, says Brynjolfsson.  
More Reading 

Still curious? Here's the extended, uncut interview. 

Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee, Election 2016, science and tech

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