Customer Review

130 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book. Everyone should read it., October 23, 2011
This review is from: Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy (Kindle Edition)
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".
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 28, 2011 5:43:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 28, 2011 5:44:10 PM PDT
JG. G says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Nov 20, 2011 11:19:38 PM PST
Adel Anwar says:
"Light against the Tunnel" book you recommended, with respect is nonsense. Why?

Jobs will be displaced. This has happened in every age of man. That is not a revelation but it is good to get it from him. His remedy is the worst "evil
". This is the problem between those that give good description [e.g. about I.Q or the state of a nation] and then give the worst remedy [e.g. Hitler: to cure Germany, his remedy is Statism and ethnic cleansing. Even allies did NOT mind his remedy, but they minded the fact he invaded others and threatened England]. Rifkin is of equal evil, like Stalin suggesting a social system. Be ware of evil, because it is Not like in the movies coming at you in one-go. It slowly creeps up like a toad in boiling water, like a virus. Any Statism is evil.

What is the 'cure' ? The fact one must recognise changing times in one's job. AND therefore expand one's skill set to areas of potential value, particularly watching trends. One must learn. One must experiment by offering value to others. One must adapt and change if it is not working. That is the key.

Secondly: in every generation it is IMPOSSIBLE TO PERCEIVE what the future [technology] holds, otherwise people would be doing it. Planes could NOT fly. It took the Wright brothers to invent it. It took a while and others TO COMMERCIALISE it. The key is laissez-faire free economy where people CAN create value and because they retain their wages, so they have enough to invest in new ideas.

Finally: consider this. If mass jobs disappear but new technology appears, then people without jobs can not partake and purchase the offers output by these new technologies. They would not have enough money!

Therefore it would either mean:
1. No more new technologies [companies going bust] OR

2. Smart people using new technologies to create value for others such that these others had enough money to grow.

Example:
Gary Valnerchuck offers wine critique. His customer base does not pay him a dime for that! He is a millionaire. Promoters pay him. He also makes money from selling the fact he has a huge customer base [different business]. He is already living in the world I am talking about above.

By the way, I have never said I can - and no one can - predict all the new technologies and jobs of tomorrow. But I have inducted that INEVITABLY there MUST be new jobs, and this has ALWAYS taken place! There MUST be new jobs BECAUSE :

1. There are virtually infinite problems. Wherever there are problems there are those offering solutions. This means value. This means jobs and customers (who purchase the solution to their problem).

2. Those who solve problems get richer [MR. A]. But that develops COMPETITION [MR.B]. Therefore for MR.A to keep ahead of the curve he must use his profits to hire and produce more solutions [more problem solving]. In order for MR.B to get ahead he too must do that and/or do it cheaper than MR.A and/or loan a lot of money to be as big as MR. A in one leap, and then pay back the loan by selling the product-or-service cheaper OR BETTER (e.g. Apple) than Mr. A .

In sum total, whatever the state of change in an economy:

A. VALUE CREATION is INEVITABLE.

B. This means customers (who purchase the value) and production/business (who produce the value).

C. It may mean people start off in boutique (e.g THOMAS EDISON) but they and/or others grow into large businesses (e.g. GE:General Electric) that hire many others.

It doesn't matter about the "age of man" [information age or other]. The above is, was and always must be the way - there can be NO TECHNOLOGY without purchasers [directly as customers who pay OR indirectly as advertisers, but these advertisers themselves MUST be able to sell their products to customers].

Absolute final point. Whenever there are POOR/ER people, there IS A MARKET PLACE! Even poor/er people MUST eat, drink [water and/or other items], have medicine to buy, etc. IN one way [capitalist business is the main way] or other [social business like MOHAMMAD YUNIS, Nobel Prize winner] , there is growth [note: social business is part of CAPITALISM and NOT socialism. A social business man like Yunis is MASSIVE PROFIT-MAKER for self, AND the social company that reinvests it].

Posted on Dec 5, 2011 12:35:50 PM PST
Yoda says:
Mr. Jarvis, your views contradict those of the Austrian school of Economics. Therefore they must be wrong.

Posted on Jan 17, 2012 11:41:22 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 18, 2012 2:24:38 AM PST]

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 8:04:49 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 28, 2012 6:54:58 AM PST]
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