Race against the Machine: Will your computer replace you?

Today, Andrew McAfee published a new book with Erik Brynjolfsson. I reviewed it on amazon, and have copied that review below. It is a decidedly fresh perspective on the new business era, and you will not walk away from this book unchanged. In it, he explores the relationship between ever productive technologies, the erosion of personal income, the rise of business profits and the global standard of living. He hints that we may need to reconsider the nature of work, human identity, and the role of technology as economic engine or giant damper.

This is an electronic only book published this way, in McAfee’s words, “because there just wasn’t time.”

Fortuitously, Andrew is our fourth Purpose-Driven Business Speaker. The event is a breakfast next Tuesday, November 1. Breakfast at 8, talk at 8:30. Back on the economy at 10. Please join us – at this free event sponsored by OpenText. it will be a very new and thrilling discussion. I guarantee it. The hashtag, should you choose to use it is #purposebiz.

Oh and the book? at 60 e-pages and $4, its a great bargain, both intellectually, and financially.

My amazon review:

In this short, fast, very well researched collaboration between the economist and the “new society and business” professor, McAfee and Brynjolfsson look into the not too distant past and future and map the trajectory of how technology is impacting and replacing human labor. They remind us of how relieved we were when automated checkout stands didn’t destroy the economy, but point to the fact that driver-less cars are no longer science fiction and the time from impossible to possible was well under a decade. They explore the complex relationship between technology, prosperity, economic growth, human identity and global wealth. The story is clearly told, drawing equally from economic and technology theorists and statistics.

As a society, our savings accounts alone reveal that we don’t exactly thrive on addressing inevitable futures. Global warming, peak oil, etc are tough for us, not just because they are complex issues, but because as a culture we prefer to look away. Reading this sharp work will both have you nodding your head in agreement tha the U.S. is tragically under-investing in education and infrastructure, while at the same time reviewing all of the post-singularity distopic literature you’ve ever read about technology controlled societies, looking for some hint that humanity will win.
There is no doubt that this scant 60 page book will ignite a huge reaction, and leave a lasting mark on the conversation. What happens when the portents of Orwell, Clark, and Asimov begin to materialize? What are we really made of?

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