The Second Machine Age

Through the years, I have read books that tried to make sense of big-picture issues of the new and soon-coming age. I’m not sure that I have always known how to put such insight into practice, but it just helped to be able to think, and feel, and say: “Oh, so that’s what’s going on.” 

My current book is The Second Machine Age.

I strongly recommend this book for your reading list. It has a lot to say about:

  • What technology will and will not replace in the workplace
  • How fast the changes are coming and
  • How wrong the “predictions” can be.
    (One of the authors described how he told his classes that the driverless car was a long-way off.  He was wrong about that!  Thus, what may seem like it will take a long time to arrive may be coming more quickly than any of us can imagine.)

This is an optimistic book, but also sobering. (Where will the jobs be for the people “replaced” in this second machine age?)

Three characteristics of this second machine age are: exponential, digital, and combinatorial.

It is now truly “winner take all.” No longer can a seller of substandard services expect to feed on a continuing stream of naïve or ill-informed consumers. No longer can the seller expect to be insulated from competitors in other locations who can deliver a better service for less.

Here are six policy recommendations from the book:

  1. Teach the children well
  2. Restart start-ups
  3. Make more matches
  4. Support our scientists
  5. Upgrade infrastructure
  6. Since we must tax, tax wisely

And here are my five takeaways:

  1. The breakthroughs will come more rapidly, more amazingly – faster and faster.
  2. The better educated will have a shot at genuine success, but…
  3. The less-than-well-educated will be in real trouble
    (We will lose more jobs than will be created. And this job loss problem will most likely accelerate…)
  4. We’ve got to get better at teaching children how to think—especially “pattern recognition” and “following 
your curiosity”
  5. You cannot survive much longer if you are not the best. Best equals “first/top ranked.”

Randy Mayeux


Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

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