The Daily Beast reviews *Average is Over*

This is by Robert Herritt, here is one excerpt:

…in filling in his vision, Cowen lets lose a barrage of teased-out implications. For one, not everyone will need to be a Zuckerberg-level coding wunderkind to stay in a job. Since machine intelligence makes it easier for businesses to orchestrate complex, team-based projects, skilled managers will be prized employees. Those put out of work by some less error-prone descendent of Siri, he predicts, will move to professions where the trustworthiness and conscientiousness of a flesh-and-blood human are most required, whether they become valets, babysitters, interior designers, or carpenters. Since, in this new world, “Rewards will flow readily to top talent, not to the socially well-connected,” self-motivation and the ability to repeatedly “reeducate” in new fields will also go a long way. In such a “hyper-meritocratic” environment, those adept at coaching will be in high demand (as Cowen sees it, everyone from CEOs to elite physicians will have a professional motivator on the payroll). Aided by machines, scientists will develop theories so complex that the general public could “be shut out from a scientific understanding of the world.” And as demographic and fiscal realities catch up with our public sector, “aid from the government will increasingly fall short of a growing set of demands.”

In stark contrast to other practitioners of freewheeling prognostication, Cowen has focused much of his energy on answering questions that have real relevance to ordinary people. Many parts of the book can be read as an advice manual for the apprehensive undergraduate struggling to pick a career path in a turbulent job market. For instance, he predicts that proliferating demands on the attention of the most well-off Americans will make marketing “a seminal sector for our future economy.” He goes on to assert that “[i]f you have an unusual ability to spot, recruit, and direct those who work well with computers, even if you don’t work well with computers yourself, the contemporary world will make you rich.”

The full review is here, and for the pointer I thank Carrie Conko.


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