2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
starts well, but underwhelming,
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This review is from: Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy (Kindle Edition)My feelings about this book are very mixed. I felt that the first sections, in which the authors describe the problems of increasing 'technological unemployment', to be well argued and persuasive. Although I had heard some of these arguments before (notably in Martin Ford's "The Lights in the Tunnel"), many of the graphs and supporting statistics were new to me, and overall I found the writing to be engaging and interesting.
But once I reached the section on 'prescriptions', the book deteriorated rapidly. The solutions presented by the authors boil down to two basic ideas: (1) provide more effective education, and (2) encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. The authors envision a future in which highly skilled human labour works alongside machines in partnership - each group complementing the other perfectly.
But I think this fundamentally misses the point. Machines already exceed our speed and dexterity, and are starting to match us in pattern recognition (an example that the authors use) and other relatively narrow domains. But what happens when they begin to emulate our intelligence, ingenuity, creativity, and all those others qualities that we think of as uniquely human ? As neuroscience advances, it's inevitable that these capabilities will be 'reverse-engineered' and emulated in software. And as the example of the self-driving car illustrates, this will likely happen far sooner than we anticipate. Even then, machines will not simply stop advancing when they reach human level. They'll simply leap ahead in greater and greater bounds. Even the most highly-educated and genetically gifted humans will be routinely outclassed in every sphere of activity. What then ?
If you're interested in these questions (and I truly think that finding an answer is one of the most important issues facing our society), then I strongly recommend Martin Ford's book. But I found this particular book quite a let-down, i'm afraid.