The Second Machine Age – Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew Mcafee

I am at the point where I am no longer entirely sure what the point of reading these books is.

I have torn through a lot of pages by the technological utopians, and I am really getting to the point where they are all kind of blending together. I know what I am looking for – I am looking for a fresh perspective and something resembling a dissenting voice. As a person who isn’t entirely convinced that I will have all that much usefulness in a society where large amounts of work will be automated away, I am looking for some understanding of where my efforts and energy should go, should my current skills be rendered redundant. The redundancies aren’t necessarily coming quickly (yet), but they are coming, and I do see my own head on the chopping block.

For those that haven’t guessed yet, The Second Machine Age is yet another book that talks about how society will be changed by the current technological revolution that we are undergoing. I should be fair and say that I don’t think this was a bad book, but I don’t think it taught me anything I didn’t already know from reading similar books. This one was just fine. The fact that it was meant to be more of an economics perspective was helpful, but it really didn’t talk about the one topic I think is that most fundamental – how to structure a society in light of the fact that jobs are going to be rendered redundant. Seeing a strong push towards Montessori education was great to see in text, but I don’t think that will really solve the issue. Yes, a lot of things that were once viable jobs – such as manufacturing work, are not going to come back. But so are a lot of the white collar jobs that are the current bedrock of our society. I don’t exactly see how Montessori schools will solve this. You can point to the success those schools have had in individuals such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, but you can’t really have a society that consists of those individuals in their economic functions. There is also something to say about the fact that while those two wildly successful in some facets of their lives, in others they have performed with less competence.

Rebuild infrastructure? That’ll do for a few years, but we cannot all build and rebuild into perpetuity. Nor will the owners of wealth really want to shell out for a non-terminating construction project.

It is a bit concerning that there are questions that I am still waiting to get answered, and that no one seems to have that answers at hand. I will have to keep looking, but the search is beginning to feel demoralizing.

Frankly, I have no idea. And I am happy this way.

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