Must-Read: James Pethokoukis Says Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee'a "Second Machine Age" Will Be One of the Most Important Books of 2014
James Pethokoukis: 3 key ideas from what will be one of the most important books of 2014:
Here is an excerpt of that excerpt....
We’re living in a time of astonishing progress with digital technologies—those that have computer hardware, software, and networks at their core.... Just as it took generations to improve the steam engine to the point that it could power the Industrial Revolution, it’s also taken time to refine our digital engines.... The transformations brought about... will be profoundly beneficial.... [But] digitization is going to... leave behind some people, perhaps even a lot of people, as it races ahead.... There’s never been a better time to be a worker with special skills or the right education... there’s never been a worse time to be a worker with only ‘ordinary’ skills and abilities to offer, because computers, robots, and other digital technologies are acquiring these skills and abilities at an extraordinary rate.
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In Race Against the Machine, Brynjolfsson and McAfee offered a numbers of ideas — there are even more in the new book — to help carbon-based lifeforms compete. Among them: 1) pay teachers more so better students want to become teachers; 2) hold teachers more accountable for performance by eliminating tenure; 3) encourage more high-skill immigration; 4) create special visas for entrepreneurs; 5) teach entrepreneurship throughout higher education; 6) create a database of “startup-in-a-box” templates; 7) lower governmental barriers to starting a business; 8) upgrade the nation’s transportation, energy, and communication infrastructure; 9) increase government funding for basic research such as that carried out by DARPA and NIH; 10) resist efforts to regulate hiring and firing; 11) lower payroll taxes; 12) decouple benefits, such as health insurance, from jobs; 13) don’t rush to regulate new innovation business structures such as crowdsourcing; 14) eliminate inefficient, crony capitalist distortions such as the home mortgage deduction and the Too Big To Fail big bank subsidy; 15) shorten copyright periods and increase the flexibility of fair use.
Here is the key thing: Even if you are a technopessimist, that list of policy ideas makes pretty good sense anyway as way of boosting growth and helping more Americans flourish and prosper.