Review Of ‘The Second Machine Age’

Jay Owen Books and Reviews, Articles by Hazel Henderson

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  • Hazel Henderson’s perspective on the recently published book, ‘The Second Machine Age’ by Erik Byrynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, authors of Race Against the Machine.
  • Explores the role of digitization in finance, economics and the economy.
  • Lauds authors’ break from traditional “economism” while questioning their faith in silicon valley.

Erik Byrynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, both at MIT, have written a very useful follow-up to their Race Against the Machine (2012) which bucked conventional economics and squarely faced our current era of jobless economic growth. Their new volume explores the causes of this latest challenge to all mature industrial societies, particularly in north america and Europe. Orthodox economic theories cannot account for this current malaise of jobless growth, inequality, offshoring and power law dynamics now producing winner-take-all outcomes unimaginable in equilibrium, normal distribution models. Most economists new to the party line deny the problems: blaming the losers, relying on GDP-averaged growth, “trickle down,” and offering the usual bromides of retraining for the dis-employed by the march of digitalization.