- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 22, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0190226765
- ISBN-13: 978-0190226763
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.1 x 6.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Code Economy: A Forty-Thousand Year History 1st Edition
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"Code is modern alchemy -- transmuting thought into action, labor into capital. As computers saturate our world and code runs everywhere, this book offers a history of how we got here and a glimpse into our highly interesting future." - Marc Andreessen, cofounder Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz
"By showing how human civilization has advanced over centuries through the creation and improvement of what we now call "code" Philip Auerswald recounts an amazing history that helps us understand how we will live and work in the future." - Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and The Innovators, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute
"Philip Auerswald weaves a compelling metaphor for a socio-economic ecosystem whose "code" determines its behavior in sometimes subtle ways. These ideas help us make sense of long- and short-term phenomena that we encounter as we try to understand, and even to predict, some of the vicissitudes of our 21st Century lives." - Vint Cerf, Internet Pioneer
"The Code Economy is a strikingly interesting and important book. Much of economic thought focuses on consumption. Auerswald focuses instead on the history of production, recounting the evolution of code as "recipes" from the origin of writing to the development of the Internet; from the culinary creations of Julia Child to the manufacture of airplanes. Read it." - Stuart Kauffman, author of At Home in the Universe and The Origins of Order
"The genius of The Code Economy is putting innovation, automation, and artificial intelligence in historical context -- telling the story of technology from the dawn of humanity to present. It should be required reading for anyone in the tech industry." - Kristin Sharp, Executive Director of the Shift Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology, New America
"Phil Auerswald looks at the economy as an ever-changing, ever-evolving set of arrangements, procedures and recipes - a "code economy." The result is a delightful account of how human activities have gathered power and complexity over centuries. Original, interesting, and thought-provoking." - W. Brian Arthur, author of Complexity and the Economy
"The end of the industrial era also means the of "organization man"--the phenomenon of people shaping themselves into institutional puzzle pieces in order to earn a livelihood. Philip Auerswald understands this. With engaging story-telling combined with insightful analysis, Auerswald recounts the history of work over the span of centuries. In so doing. he helps us understand that the social era in which we find ourselves is one filled not only with uncertainties and risks, but also with abundant and unprecendented personal possibilities." - Nilofer Merchant, author The Social Era
"In a time where most people are feeling deep anxiety about the future of work, Philip Auerswald provides a much more positive vision. By separating "work," which brings us meaning, from "jobs," which deliver a paycheck, Auerswald provides companies, policymakers, and society with a roadmap for where our economy can actually go in coming decades." - Ross Baird, Chief Executive Officer, Village Capital
"The economics of the future will be the economics of code. Phil Auerswald gets this, and in this book he shows you why that matters so much." -Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
About the Author
Philip Auerswald is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University and a Senior Fellow at the Kauffman Foundation. He is also the Co-founder and Co-editor of Innovations, a quarterly journal about entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges.
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Top Customer Reviews
I started reading this book in a five hours’ flight thinking that it will help me to get some sleep during the flight but it kept me well engaged in the reading. On my trip, every free moment that I have I read.
Highly recommend this book.
The book starts poorly, when Auerswald demonstrates a lack of understanding of evolution. On page 1, he states, “In the economy, raw materials are like diatoms, amoebas, or plankton in the biological food chain, whereas standardized platforms are like complex multicellular organisms. As the code advances, higher-level technologies feed on more fundamental technologies in much the same way more complex organisms feed on simpler organisms in the food chain.” Organisms higher up in the food chain are not necessarily more complex or more “evolved”. Consider people being eaten by sharks, pitcher plants eating insects, snakes eating baby birds, ticks feeding on humans, lizards eating mice, etc. This analogy is the basic premise of the book, and it fails on page 1.
As to the supposed importance of this supposed link, Auerswald writes, “As I stated in the Introduction, the primary reason that I chose “code” as the most appropriate term to describe the mechanism b which technological information is stored and transmitted is not because code is a synonym for computer software but because it is used to describe genetic material – material that both preserves structure and enables organic change. That is the operative analogy. Indeed, as I have insisted throughout, this is more than an analogy; the introduction of production recipes into economics is – by structural parallel if not by magnitude of historic insight – exactly what the introduction of DNA is to molecular biology. It is the essential first step toward a transformation of economics into a branch of information theory.”
Here’s a brief summary of the chapters:
Introduction: Technology – Recipes
PART 1: The Advance of Code
CH 1: Jobs: Divide and Coordinate – early human ‘codes’ (history)
CH 2: Code: “This Is the Procedure” – history of writing and cities
CH 3: Machines: “The Universal Character” – history of binary digital code; great London fire of 1666
CH 4: Computers: Predicting the Weather – digital computers outperform humans in “mental tasks”; history of weather prediction
PART 2: Code Economics
CH 5: Substitution: The Great Man-vs-Machine Debate – history of technology-human issues
CH 6: Information: “Reliable Circuits Using Crummy Relays” – history of economics
CH 7: Learning: The Dividend of Doing – practice and intelligence
CH 8: Evolution: The Code of Life – “production recipes” = the DNA of the economy
CH 9: Platforms: The Role of Standards in Enabling Increased Complexity – learning curves; making complex products; making complex products; Kauffman-Levin NK model; standards and platforms
PART 3: The Human Advantage
CH 10: Complementarity: The Bifurcation is Near – as computers take over jobs that humans have done, humans are freed up to take on new jobs that were not previously in existence
CH 11: Education: The Game of Life – college; peer-to-peer economy
CH 12: Equity” Progress and Poverty – monopolies; the growing inequality; economic geography; trust
CH 13: Authenticity: Creating the Foundations for Reputation – creative computers; algorithms; Bitcoin; Blockchain
Overall, this isn’t a bad book, but it doesn’t offer anything new.
Rather than The Code Economy, I suggest E.O. Wilson’s The Social Conquest of Earth and/or Countdown, by Alan Weisman.
English with no profanities. I'm tempted to state that the subject matter tends toward the sort not really suitable for youth. then again, I know some youth who are able to grasp these concepts far better than I.
Personally, i did find some points of interest, near the end, when the author writes about the value of algorithms in using a computer to develop recipes, or movies, that will likely prove popular. It was then that I stumbled into an answer of the great riddle of 2016 - how did Donald Trump's campaign overcome his own seemingly outrageous statements and inexperience to defeat a campaign that did so much according to conventional wisdom?
Trump himself never hinted at it, but some of his supporters kept talking of 'Big Data.' I think a champion of this concept is Steve Bannon. Thus, the one chapter that most resonated with me is 13, Authenticity.
Aside from Authenticity and the discussion of using algorithms, the best I could have rated this book would have been three stars. My realization of the impact of code and devising algorithms and how it may be changing humanity forever (for good and evil, mind you) makes this a profound read.
Make no doubt about it, though, as humanity shifts into greater dependence on these new mathematical concepts, we are in for a perplexing, dare I say, dangerous future. Could algorithms be the new 666?
I realize this review is going to be thought bizarre by many readers. But, it is The Code Economy that warped my mind into such thinking.
Four stars out of five.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book combines complexity theory, economics, evolution, and a sound understanding of organizational dynamics to tell the story...Read more