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The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies Kindle Edition

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Length: 321 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Fascinating.” — Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times)

“Erik and Andy have lived on the cutting edge, and now, with this book, they are taking us there with them. A brilliant look at the future that technology is bringing to our economic and social lives. Read if you want to prepare yourself and your children for the world of work ahead.” — Zoë Baird, president, Markle Foundation

“How we build, use, and live with our digital creations will define our success as a civilization in the twenty-first century. Will our new technologies lift us all up or leave more and more of us behind? is the essential guide to how and why that success will, or will not, be achieved.” — Garry Kasparov, thirteenth World Chess Champion

“Brynjolfsson and McAfee take us on a whirlwind tour of innovators and innovations around the world. But this isn’t just casual sightseeing. Along the way, they describe how these technological wonders came to be, why they are important, and where they are headed.” — Hal Varian, chief economist at Google

“Fascinating.” — Andrew Leonard (Salon)

“Maddeningly reasonable and readable.” — Thomas Claburn (InformationWeek)

“Excellent.” — Clive Cook (Bloomberg)

“Optimistic and intriguing.” — Steven Pearlstein (The Washington Post)

“My favorite book so far of 2014. Both hopeful…and realistic.” — Joshua Kim (Inside Higher Education)

“Information technology is the foundation of the next industrial revolution. Its often unarticulated dark side has been the widening of the economic divide. In this book, McAfee and Brynjolfsson do a masterful job of exploring both the promise of computer technology and its profound societal impact.” — Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk

About the Author

Erik Brynjolfsson is the director of the MIT Center for Digital Business and one of the most cited scholars in information systems and economics.

Andrew McAfee is a principal research scientist at the MIT Center for Digital Business and the author of Enterprise 2.0.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1474 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0393239357
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (January 20, 2014)
  • Publication Date: January 13, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00D97HPQI
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,347 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

163 of 169 people found the following review helpful By Bill Jarvis on January 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
In "The Second Machine Age," Brynjolfsson and McAfee argue that as technology advances exponentially and combinatorially it is taking us into an entirely new era. In the future we can expect more of everything, including both tangible goods and digital products and services, at lower and lower prices. They call this "Bounty." There is a dark side as well, however. Machines and computers are increasingly substituting for routine human labor, and technology is a major driver of increased inequality. The authors call this "Spread".

In addition to this book, I'd also strongly suggest reading The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future. That book takes a somewhat longer view and asks where all this will lead in the coming decades. The answers and the proposed solutions are less conventional and more controversial.

The Second Machine Age gives many examples of specific technologies like robots, AI and autonomous cars, and also lots of data showing how the economy is being transformed. The authors also make a strong argument that the way economists measure things, especially in terms of GDP, no longer does a good job of capturing what prosperity really means in the information age.

The book includes suggestions for both individuals and policy makers. Brynjolfsson and McAfee suggest that workers should learn to "race with the machines" (rather than against them), although the advice here isn't very specific beyond getting the best education you can. The authors are hopeful that innovations like massive free online courses (MOOCs) will help more people to make this transition.
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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Steven Grimm on January 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This covers a lot of the same ground as books such as "The Lights in the Tunnel" but in a more pop-academic style: the prose is all very accessible but the information is extensively footnoted and attributed, and there are numerous references to the work of other academics, mostly but not exclusively economists. For anyone who wonders why we're seeing record-high income inequality and jobless recoveries from recessions, this book will clear up a lot of mysteries.

As someone in the technology field myself, I found little to disagree with in the book's treatment of recent and upcoming technological advances, which occupies the first several chapters; the authors have done their homework and have visited enough research labs and company R&D departments to have a very realistic picture of what's just over the horizon. There'll be nothing earth-shattering here for readers who follow technology trends or even who read WIRED magazine, but the book looks at all these things through a somewhat different lens (its impact on human work) than the tech press usually does, and I didn't find myself skimming even when they were covering developments with which I'm already very familiar.

For me, the best stretch of the book was chapters 7 through 11, when the focus moves to the effects of recent technological advances on the economy and on the study of economics itself. The authors build a compelling case that income inequality is much more a consequence of the move to a digital economy than of any particular government policy. I found their take on globalization especially interesting: they view it as a big contributor to the rise in income of the world's top earners, but not for the reasons people usually think.
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85 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. McDonald VINE VOICE on February 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Brynjolfsson is one of the most forward and provocative thinkers out there about technology and its impact on economics. The book he co-authored with Andy McAfee "Race Against the Machine" is one of the best books I have read in a long time. This book repeats much of what is in Race against the Machine, giving it a more positive spin. If you have read the first book, there really is no reason to read this one. The Second Machine Age rewords much of Brynjolfsson's TED talk of the a similar name. The TED Talk is highly recommended and provides a good overview of what you will find in this book.

Big ideas, like those Brynjolfsson talks about are hard to come by and that is what makes them valuable. I had hoped that this book developed these ideas further, rather than largely restating them. That said if you have never read "Race" this book is just as good as the other.
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58 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Jackal on March 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
CONTENT
The book's idea is that the the computer/network/digital has now reached a maturity so we will see big changes in the future. They compare with the steam engine (but they should really have compared with electricity if they knew their history). There is a delay until we get big productivity improvement so we can soon expect higher productivity growth due to the Internet. I do not have any quarrels with this basic idea. I agree with the authors that the future is quite bright. Still, I wonder why anyone would agree with the authors mainly by providing a bunch of tech-friendly examples. It is a pretty poor way to forecast the future.

The book goes from being average to bad when it comes to assessing the consequences. The digital future will have many consequences for the world in terms of economy, politics and culture. These authors are not suited to provide that perspective, even though they try. The authors have a lot to say about the US and nothing to say about the world. We get to learn things that American school need to get better and that America needs to welcome talent. I am left wondering if there could me MIT professors without a passport.

If you are familiar with the recent trends, like Apple's Siri, Google's driverless car, then you will not even learn from the examples. I found one example about crowd-sourced innovation very interesting. Whether you find the examples useful or not depends on whether you read about technology. If you do I don't think you will find this book valuable at all.

The material in the book would have been great for a long article in The Atlantic, but it certainly is not sufficient for a book length treatment.

STYLE
The book is very easy to read and contains nothing complicated like diagrams or figures.
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