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on 21 April 2014
A simply brilliant account of what is going on in the world right now.. Anyone in the world of finance to turns their nose up to the idea "it's different this time" is a fool... It's different everytime but especially this time. The effects of the machine and the Information Age are profound with enormous investment implications... This book will make you rich if you understand how to appropriate the ideas it contains.
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on 25 March 2015
Fantastic read for everyone but especially if you are concerned about why there are NO BLOODY JOBS. Education has not moved in line with technology and technology is racing ahead every day. Unless our governments - who have a Duty of Care to everybody, not just those in employment - step forward and embrace technology and bring about education reform then they are not doing their job.
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on 15 March 2013
Race Against the Machine is a really good synopsis of the effects of increasing technology and digitisation on work and economies. The 19 things we can do to mitigate the effects are interesting, but could usefully have included more detail and recognised the existence of a world outside the USA. Nonetheless extremely readable and thought provoking.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 July 2014
This little monograph / pamphlet / ebook does not start in a very promising way. It lists a bunch of ways computers have “raced” ahead of us humans: they now beat us in chess, they beat is in Jeopardy, they can translate documents, they fly our planes, they can do a passable job of driving a car. Moreover, the authors argue, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The machines are only getting started. Moore’s law, which states that computers will get twice as fast every (fill in the blank with a number between 12 and 18) months means that, now they have caught up with us, they are about to leave us in their dust.

A very tired analogy is made with the guy who won from the king a grain of rice/wheat/cereal of his choice for the first square in the chessboard, 2 for the second, 4 for the third etc. Apparently, while you are still in the first half of the chessboard the amount he won was large but still deliverable, but get to the second part of the chessboard and then the exponential growth that was going unnoticed up to 2^32 really kicks in. So watch out everyone. Computers can already beat us in chess, but they are about to start beating us in… yeah, no idea. Call me when they can play beer pong.

At that point I was thinking to myself “good thing this is just 76 pages.” Computers have always beaten me in chess, I never considered myself in any type of race. And I read somewhere that we’re actually approaching the physical limits of how small we can make the parts, i.e. how fast they can compute. So, as far as I’m concerned, the main point here is not just horribly corny, it’s both irrelevant to me and perhaps about to stop being true. Maybe the chessboard stops at 35. How do these guys know? Honestly.

But I persevered with the book and I was handsomely rewarded.

The authors make a very brave call. This book being so short they don’t go into terribly much detail, but the story here goes as follows: forget what you read about the mortgage debacle, the debt crisis, the freezing of credit flow, Lehman, Goldman and AIG, forget about insufficient demand, the need for government to stimulate, forget about business uncertainty, healthcare costs, labor market hysteresis, the Euro straightjacket, Chinese oversupply, the global glut of savings, forget it all. All that’s happened to our economy is in 1982 IBM launched a thing called the personal computer.

In year 1800 largely all Americans worked in agriculture but the gasoline-powered tractor and phosphate-based fertilizers were introduced a hundred years ago, freeing the hands of 98% of Americans to do other things. This did not come for free. An entire generation of people was lost, namely people who brought agriculture skills to the 1930’s. They were surplus to requirements and they suffered the Great Depression, dragging everybody else with them, since they could not afford the goods and services everybody else provided. The next generation, their children (also known as the baby boomers) did A-OK and now run the world, pretty much.

Similarly, in year 1980 all Americans outside of NASA worked in a computer-free job environment. With pretty much exactly the same time lag, those who don’t know how to run with the computer are now living the Great Recession. Those who do are the infamous 1%.

I so buy it, I’m next going to read the authors’ sequel.

And in the interest of not writing a review that’s longer than the book I’ll leave the rest of the story alone. Let me just mention that there’s a cheerful prediction (there will be a massive need for people to shepherd the machine) as well as a set of 19 not terribly well developed recommendations (#1 is Education, yawn) to complement the inevitable dire predictions for the future of those (like anybody involved in scribbling on a blackboard, for example) who don’t yet run with the machine.

The authors are terribly apologetic about their main idea and they insist that it was not what they set out to write about. I think it's genius.
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on 24 January 2015
No Futurist gets everything right and this is written from inside the academic bubble. But there are some powerful insights here and useful data. Essential reading as you work out the path from building businesses by adding people to building a better future for everyone by adding technology.
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on 6 July 2013
While I enjoyed the premise of this book - an exploration of the relationships between humans and technology in this new digital age - I found myself falling asleep after a couple of pages each time I went to read it. I wanted to love it and don't really know why I couldn't stay interested.
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on 2 July 2013
This is a short book but makes it points well. There does seem to be something happening in terms of the impact of technology on "knowledge workers" and the middle classes in developed economies that is new. Good use of data to support their arguments.
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on 18 January 2012
This is an excellent contribution to the current post-crash debate, I concur with some of the reviews that it is short and lacks depth when addressing the AI issues and future of computing. Hence 4 stars. However, it remains a readable and useful pointer to the key issues that society has yet to deal with or acknowledge. That is its value.

My own text on the issue of Social Cohesion addresses the question from a stance of society and trust.
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on 27 August 2013
A very interesting book but inspite of the author's optimism for the future I remain pessimistic about future employment prospects. Rather a short book however - only 76 pages
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on 27 August 2013
Easy to read but insightful. A book that makes you think that we can all benefit from technology and don't have to spend time fearing it.
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