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Insightful book on the exponential growth of technologies and ideas, the economic implications and possible solutions. Very interesting and thought provoking. Let down by irritating American infomercial style narration.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Well organized, thoughtfully written, but if you're reading in the space, absolutely no new information. This is a book I'll recommend to readers who aren't already reading blogs and books covering similar topics. I did like the presentation as hopeful without being fervent.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
This is an upbeat survey of a technical and very rapidly changing field. The field is changing so rapidly some of the technical information in this book was obsolete before it got published. For example there is a section on the Waze GPS mapping system. This was purchased by Google and integrated into Google Maps way back in 2013. As a survey, it provides mostly news stories (computer wins Jeopardy, etc.) and some related statistics, but very little deep thinking or analysis.
I much preferred The Singularity is Near (which is weird, but thought-provoking) and Race Against the Machine (which is very much like this book, but clearer).
The authors make a number of policy recommendations all of which seem amazingly short sighted, liberally biased, and basically ignore the authors' own primary hypothesis of an exponential inflection point in technology growth.
The authors refer to the world being at an exponential inflection point of technical change (that is, the near future is about to be significantly different than the recent past would predict) yet the authors repeatedly indicate while discussing their recommendation, we are not yet on the brink of significant change, pointing out that change in the recent past has not been all that fast. So which is it?
The authors seem largely to focus on mitigating "spread". Spread is the authors' code-word for income/wealth inequality. Interestingly, the book seems to me to have a strong liberal bias, yet it has been edited carefully so this bias is well cloaked from a casual reader.
The Authors' make a bunch of policy recommendations:
Use technology in education
MOOCs in particular
Higher teacher salaries
Increase teacher accountability
Increase hours spent in education
Encourage Entrepreneurship & Start-ups
Government support of new technologies with Programs & Prizes
Use technology to match workers to Start-ups, including foreign workers
Tax incentives for start-ups
Raise taxes on the rich and famous
Increase maximum tax rate
Increase non-worker tied corporate taxes including VAT
Increase Pigovian Taxes (taxes on pollution)
Traffic Congestion Pricing
Increase Social Support
Guaranteed Basic Income Cash or vouchers or Negative Income Tax
Government run mutual fund paying citizens
Encourage technologies which augment, rather than substitute for, human ability
Implement Made-By-Humans advertising
These policy recommendations seem largely unrelated to the technical revolution and include a lot of government control and wealth redistribution. I am somewhat dubious these are great ideas particularly if government uses the new technologies to enhance its already substantial power.
So many important questions are totally ignored by this book. Is the developed world approaching stuff saturation? If so, how will a new service and entertainment economy work? Will humans be enhanced by technology? Will there be an enhancement backlash? Will nano-technology (or AI, or some other technology) go dangerously wrong? Should we be addressing such risk now? Such questions are raised in other books like The Singularity is Near.
The narration was OK but not superb.
41 of 45 people found this review helpful