The Second Machine Age

Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

by Erik Brynjolfsson , Andrew McAfee

Number of pages: 320

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

BBB Library: Technology and Globalization

ISBN: 9780393239355

About the Authors

Erik Brynjolfsson : Brynjolfsson is a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School


Andrew McAfee : McAfee is a researcher, writer, and teacher about technological progress and


Editorial Review

In The Second Machine Age MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee—two thinkers at the forefront of their field—reveal the forces driving the reinvention of our lives and our economy. As the full impact of digital technologies is felt, we will realize immense bounty in the form of dazzling personal technology, advanced infrastructure, and near-boundless access to the cultural items that enrich our lives.

Book Reviews

"The strength of The Second Machine Age is how it weaves macro- and microeconomics with insights from a wide range of other disciplines into an accessible and convincing story." Washington Post

"Just by its title,The Second Machine Agedraws an analogy to the industrial revolution which implicitly suggests that the digital revolution will be comparable in its effects on long-run economic growth." New Republic

"Their most recent book,The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies,took an upbeat view of the high-tech future. But since its 2014 publication, the two academics have been grappling with a problem whose dimensions surprise even them: why digital innovations are contributing to the stagnation in average incomes in the United States and to the disappearance of so many middle-level jobs." Harvard Business Review

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Wisdom to Share

In the second machine age, we need to think much more deeply about what it is we really want and what we value, both as individuals and as a society.

If the work a person produces in one hour can instead be produced by a machine for one dollar, then a profit-maximizing employer won’t offer a wage for that job of more than one dollar.

In almost every industry, technological progress will bring unprecedented bounty. More wealth will be created with less work.

Unlike the steam engine or electricity, second machine age technologies continue to improve at a remarkably rapid exponential pace, replicating their power with digital perfection and creating even more opportunities for combinatorial innovation.

But what drives increases in GDP per person? Part of it comes from using more resources. But most of it comes from increases in our ability to get more output from the given level of inputs.

The transformations brought about by digital technology will be profoundly beneficial ones. Technology can bring us more choice and even freedom.

We’re living in a time of astonishing progress with digital technologies¾those that have computer hardware, software, and networks at their core.