*The Second Machine Age*

by on August 28, 2013 at 10:51 am in Books, Economics, Web/Tech | Permalink

The authors are Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, and the subtitle is Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.

It is due out January 2014, self-recommending, and it is likely to be the best and most important economics book of the forthcoming year.

1 ac August 28, 2013 at 11:30 am

Can we take over/under bets each year on the “best and most important economics book of the year”?

2 prior_approval August 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Only as long as there is an Amazon affiliate link involved.

In which case, the more the merrier.

3 MichaelG August 28, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Currently, there’s no Kindle edition listed. What were they thinking?

4 JWatts August 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm

They wanted to be Ironic?

5 lxm August 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I am waiting for this book: The end of the age of oil:How American hubris destroyed the greatest empire the world ever saw

6 Norman Pfyster August 28, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Rome had long since disappeared by the time the US came about.

7 Eliezer Yudkowsky August 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm


(Tyler, have you read that?)

I don’t actually get Brynjolffson and McAfee. I read the original book and it seemed very unoriginal and not to address at all the basic question of “Why did Ricardian reemployment work fine when agricultural jobs went from 95% to 3%, work fine when automobiles put the whole horse-and-buggy industry out of existence, work fine when women entered the workforce during WWII, and then suddenly stop working?” For more on this see the Robots, AI, and Unemployment Anti-FAQ above, including questions like “Why did unemployment in Germany drop by half to ~5% when Germany has twice as many robots per capitaas the US?” and “Why is unemployment in Australia low and could it have something to do with their NGDP growth path regularization?”

Do Brynjolffson and McAfee have more sophisticated papers that Tyler has read? The popular book did not impress me.

8 lxm August 28, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Thanks for the link. Lotsto think about.

9 Claude Emer August 29, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Interesting link. Definitely worth reading.

10 Brian Donohue August 29, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Highly recommended. “What are we going to do with all these people?” has been a rallying cry for centuries.

I like the laundry list of explanations for the current mess- everyone’s got a hold of one part of the elephant.

11 Tobias_L August 30, 2013 at 7:15 am

Eliezer could you expand on – “Why is unemployment in Australia low and could it have something to do with their NGDP growth path regularization?” .

12 JK August 28, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I’ve never been clear exactly what self recommending means. And if it is self recommending why does Tyler need to mention it? Surely it would be of more interest to know if Tyler recommends it?

13 Rahul August 29, 2013 at 1:04 am

I always took it to mean “I cannot offend these guys but I haven’t bothered to read it myself!”

14 Tyler Cowen August 29, 2013 at 7:18 am

It means, at least in this case, “I don’t yet have a copy because it isn’t out yet but it is very likely to be extremely interesting.”

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