Profile for Bill Jarvis > Reviews

Browse

Bill Jarvis' Profile

Customer Reviews: 5
Top Reviewer Ranking: 441,814
Helpful Votes: 486




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Bill Jarvis RSS Feed

Show:  
Page: 1
pixel
The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies
The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies
Price: $12.99

153 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Age of Smart Machines, January 13, 2014
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.

There are lots of policy suggestions including reforming education to pay teachers more but also make them accountable, jump starting entrepreneurship, better job matching technologies, investing more in basic scientific research, upgrading national infrastructure, expanding skilled immigration, implementing smarter taxes, expanding the earned income tax credit (EITC), etc. In the long run, the authors also offer lukewarm support for the possibility of a guaranteed income or negative income tax.

Overall, "The Second Machine Age" does a good job of identifying and explaining the forces that will be critical to the economy and job market of future. The book has a basically optimistic tone, but I think a lot of the trends it points out are going to be really bad news for a lot of people.
Comment Comments (28) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2014 1:24 PM PST


Genghis: Birth of an Empire: A Novel (The Khan Dynasty)
Genghis: Birth of an Empire: A Novel (The Khan Dynasty)
by Conn Iggulden
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.04
61 used & new from $6.79

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Historical Novel!, October 24, 2011
I'd have to say that "Genghis: Birth of an Empire" is one of the most compelling historical novels I have every read. It is far better than the "Rome" series by the same author; for example Emperor: The Gates of Rome: A Novel of Julius Caesar (The Emperor Series).

Prior to reading this book, I had always viewed Genghis Khan and the Mongols as simply a brutish, savage horde. This book really changes that perception by delving deeply into the history while building very rich and believable characters. While the savage nature of the Mongols is unquestionable and is brought to life in this book, it also shows them as reasoning human beings with their own philosophy and way of life. In particular is shows how the harshness of their environment may have led to an equally harsh society, and especially a brutal attitude toward enemies.

I did some research, and it appears that the book is historically very accurate, at least in terms of what is known. The author filled the gaps convincingly while remaining true to the big picuture. Overall is is a highly enjoyable read, and also very educational. Highly recommended!


Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy
Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy
Price: $3.82

131 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book. Everyone should read it., October 23, 2011
In "Race Against the Machine", economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee ask the question: Could technology be destroying jobs? They then expand on that to explore whether advancing information technology might be an important contributor to the current unemployment disaster. The authors argue very convincingly that the answer to both questions is YES.

The book is very readable and includes lots of links to supporting evidence (both statistical and anecdotal). The authors do a good job of focusing on how computer technology is accelerating exponentially and how computers are a "general purpose technology", in other words, a special technology that can affect just about anything else and have much bigger impact than more narrowly focused innovations.

I thought a really good example involved automated driving. In 2005, two other economists suggested that it would be "hard to imagine" computers ever being able to handle driving in traffic. Yet, just 6 years later, Google introduced automated cars that did exactly that. The point is that progress in information technology is very likely to exceed our expectations and surprise us in the coming years.

While the problems are laid out clearly, I think the solutions offered are pretty conventional. The authors' call for reforming and upgrading schools, for example, is something that just about everyone can agree on. However, even if we managed to do that (and we are not making much progress), those kids would not enter the workforce for many years, and who knows what technology will be capable of by then?

Our children will face an entirely new job market and economy. Everyone should really read both "Race Against the Machine and also another important book, "The Lights in the Tunnel".
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 27, 2012 8:04 AM PST


Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present
Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present
by Jeffrey G. Madrick
Edition: Hardcover
81 used & new from $0.01

34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Chronicle of Unrestrained Greed and Corruption, July 7, 2011
Age of Greed is a fascinating account of how unfettered self-interest and outright greed overcame virtually all barriers and resulted in enourmous growth of the financial sector over the past 30-40 years. The book is really a series of interconnected stories, each illustrating how prominent individuals and institutions manipulated the system and took on devastating risk levels for private gain.

The book covers a series of ever increasing financial crises and frauds, such as the Latin American and Asian financial crises and the Enron scam. It focuses on prominant people like Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, Jack Grubman, Frank Quattrone, Ken Lay, Angelo Mozilo and Dick Fuld and how they contributed to one disaster after another. The book shows how free-market fundamentalism and "greed is good" mentality came to dominate, and how that resulted in the destruction of the regulatory environment that once kept the banking sector safe.

While the book offers a great overview of what happened in the financial sector, it fails to acknowledge the other critical forces that have been in play in America since the 1970s: Globalization, the decline of private sector unions, the entry of huge numbers of women into the workforce, and the relentless advance of information technology. (However, for an alternate view on technology and innovation see also The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will(Eventually) Feel Better.)

While the role of Wall Street, and in particular, deregulation is of critical importance, it would be a mistake to make the simplistic assumption that this explains all our problems. Information technology, in particular, has advanced tremendously since the 1970s, and it is important to recognize this because the impact will be even greater in the future.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 27, 2012 8:05 AM PST


The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick,  and Will  (Eventually) Feel Better: A Penguin eSpecial from Dutton
The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better: A Penguin eSpecial from Dutton
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $3.79

167 of 173 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and perceptive, but raises questions..., January 26, 2011
"The Great Stagnation" offers a very concise and well thought-out essay on the relationship between innovation and prosperity. The first chapter, which shows how median incomes have stagnated in recent years as the economy's "low hanging fruit" has gotten scarce is especially well done. The parts on health care and education are also very good.

Cowen's central idea is that the pace of innovation has slowed, and that we are now on a "technological plateau" that makes further growth challenging. If you consider technology in the broad sense (energy, transportation, home, etc), this makes sense as things have not changed a lot in recent decades. However, I think it is also true that progress has been highly concentrated in information technology and communications, and that things continue to advance rapidly in this area. Cowen notes this but seems to feel that the Internet is the only really major innovation.

Cowen argues that what we need is a new burst of innovation that will propel economic growth. Here is the problem I see with that: Cowen writes that "a lot of our major innovations are springing up in sectors where a lot of work is done by machines, not by human beings." In fact if you look at companies like Google or Facebook, or entire industries like semiconductors, computers, Internet or biotech, there are really not a lot of jobs in total and certainly not a lot for middle skill people. If there is manufacturing it is either heavily automated or offshore.

The question is: if today's innovations are already creating industries that are not labor-intensive and rely instead on technology, why would the future be different? Won't the new burst of innovation that Cowen calls for create even more technology-intensive industries...and few jobs?
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 22, 2012 11:02 AM PST


Page: 1